Raiders defeat Rebul and Hillcrest to improve to 2-2

By TAYLOR HAWKINS,

After dropping two games to Leake Academy to start the season, the Benton Academy Raiders earned their first wins of the season against Rebul Academy and Hillcrest to improve to 2-2. For new Benton Academy head coach Gregg Pepper, the season has been going pretty well considering the circumstances. “We had a lot of our players playing basketball, so we haven’t had a ton of practice time,” Pepper said. “The rain has been pretty constant. We’ve had some games rained out. I came to Benton in October when they had a coach leave. I’ve known Coach (Kenny) Burton for years, so he got me to come here. We have about 18 players on the varsity team, and we’ve been working hard to get better.” In their first two games of the season, the Raiders faced a tough Leake Academy team that was stronger in both numbers and experience. Leake won the two games by scores of 18-3 and 14-1. Despite the big losses, Benton’s Raiders were not ready to give up on the season. They came out and faced Rebul Academy, where they earned their first win of the season by a score of 15-3. According to Pepper, the Raiders found their recipe for success, and it was a simple one. “We hit well, pitched well, and defended well,” Pepper said. “If we can do that, we can compete.” Cody Prescott led the Raiders offensively by going 4-for-4 at the plate. Hayden Middleton went 2-for-4 at the plate. Cole Ables had one hit in the game and earned the win on the mound. On Monday night, the Raiders traveled to Hillcrest to make up a game that was rained out earlier in the year. The Raiders won their second straight game by a score of 12-6. Hayden Middleton started the game for the Raiders before being relieved by Ty Blackstock. Cody Prescott came in and closed out the game. Pepper is still toying around with his pitching rotation, but his offense is coming together quite nicely. “We put the ball in play really well against Hillcrest,” Pepper said. “We had over 15 hits. We’re still a work in progress with pitching. We’re still seeing what we’ve got. We go out every night with three guys ready to pitch, and we’ll use them if we have to.”