Time to Shine: Mabe bounces back from early season injury to Senior Night starter against North Lamar

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

April 25, 2008 - When SSHS senior Kevin Mabe steps onto the pitching mound tonight against the North Lamar Panthers, he knows what is at stake as seven seniors play their final district game at Eagle Stadium.

"It is real important, and that is what I keep thinking about after we lost to Texas High on Tuesday," Mabe said. "I know that I have to forget about that and get ready to throw since it is going to be the last district ballgame at home.

"I am on the mound and I know that a lot of people are going to be there. I need to step up my game against North Lamar even though we beat them the first time we played them. Hopefully, I will come out and shut them down and we will hit them and do good."

Mabe has taken over the No. 2 starter for the Wildcats since coming off an early season injury and has pitched well in 31 1/3 innings. He is currently 3-2 on the season with a 5.14 ERA and is second in strikeouts with 27 while allowing 12 walks and 36 hits.

Head coach Jerrod Hammack said that is what makes Mabe a consistent starter heading into the tonight's game and in the playoffs.

"Kevin has been a good No. 2 starter for two years now and he did have an injury that caused him to have a delay in playing this year," the coach said. "He has done a good job and has won some big games for us. His only loss came against T-High and I thought he threw well in that ballgame.

"We expect for him to go out and do a good job for us. We will put him against anybody's No. 2 pitcher in the playoff series and feel good about our chances."

With a first-round match-up against either Marshall, Kilgore or Henderson next week, Mabe said he is getting prepared for the postseason.

"It is going to be pretty important, and I am hoping that we get to go quite a few rounds deep," he said. "I want to be able to pitch a few more games, and as long as I am in the field I am happy, but I want to help out as much as I can."

When he is not pitching, Mabe can also be seen in left field as he has a.875 fielding percentage with two putouts and five assists in 11 games this season.

He said his greatest memories of his high school career happen when he steps out on the field and one game against a district rival last season.

"I think it was last year when we played Paris and Reavis was pitching against us. He was a good pitcher and we hit him good," the senior said. "Another good memory for me is pretty much every single game that I get to pitch or play in, and all of those are good memories. It is hard for me to pick just one."

With the season winding down and the playoff series beginning next week, Kevin said playing his final games with classmates Josh Dunn, Dalton Abner, Brittan Diamond, Dustin Gant, Brandon Whittle and Jeff Beck will be tough.

"I have played with these guys pretty much my entire life," he said. "It is going to be pretty weird not getting to play with them anymore and I might get to play against a few of them in college. It is going to be sad knowing that we will not get to play together after this, but we are going to make the most out of it and have something to remember."

The son of Tony and Donna Mabe, Kevin is a member of the Key Club, FCA and FFA at the high school. In college, he is undecided on where he will be going and hopes to get a degree in mechanical engineering.

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