Last season, the Conway baseball team found itself in an early hole to start 7A-Central Conference play, as they dropped the first three games.
That was part of an 0-7 stretch overall and put the Cats "probably too big of a hole," Conway coach Noel Boucher said.
But that was last season.
The Cats opened conference play Thursday night with a 16-6 thumping of Little Rock Catholic at Wampus Cat Field in a six-inning, run-ruled game. The win was Conway’s fifth out of six games this season.
"Last year when we started 0-3, we just trying to figure out what was going on," Boucher said of his then youthful Cats. "It’s a little different this year."
Conway banged out 15 hits in the game, led by Aaron Boucher’s 3-for-4, four-RBI performance. They were also aided by two six-run innings — one in the second and again in the sixth.
Still, Boucher felt like things could have been better, as could be evident in defensive miscues.
"Even though we won by the run rule, I thought it was just OK," Boucher said. "We made some uncharacteristic errors."
The Cats finished with three errors, while the Rockets didn’t commit any.
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the second, Conway went ahead for good with its six runs. Ryan Lazo reached safely on an infield single to start things off. Aaron Boucher followed with a walk, and two batters later, Jordan Cates was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Three straight singles from Connor McClain, Tyler Langley and Wesley Hooever and a double from Patrick Mann drove in the runs.
"We had pretty good discipline at the plate," Boucher said. "We showed discipline to go ahead and take a walk, or if the pitch is there to try to make something happen."
The Cats extended that lead to 10-2 after three runs in the third, highlighted by back-to-back RBI-triples from Aaron Boucher and Anderson, before Catholic plated three of its own in the fourth.
Another run by the Rockets in the sixth cut the lead to 10-6, but the Conway bats found life again in the bottom of the frame.
The Cats sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and had five hits, the same number as in the six-run second. After Langley had a one-out bunt-single, Conway had eight straight batters reach base, including a three-run double from Aaron Boucher.
Lazo finished the game 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, while Hoover went 2-for-3 with two RBI. Anderson, Langley and Mann all finished 2-for-4, and each drove in a pair of runs.
Nick Rougeau was the only Catholic player with multiple hits. He finished 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Jordan Bell pitched 3 2/3 frames before Andrew Adams came on to finish the game.
"That was not (Bell’s) best stuff," Boucher said. "He’s got better stuff than that, but to his credit, he competed hard.
"I’m really happy with how (Adams) threw."
Regardless of who was on the mound, Boucher was happy with the outcome.
"Winning conference games at home is key," Boucher said. "You’ve got to win those and try to pick up some on the road."
The Cats will try to do that on the road this weekend in tournament action at Mountain Home.