The relationship between pitcher and catcher is so vital in the sport of baseball. Luckily for the senior trio of Wade Thompson, Grayson Rich and Kale Hagan, that relationship is the strongest for the Monroe County Falcons.
Over their time playing the sport, pitchers Thompson and Rich developed a very close bond with Hagan who has been behind the plate catching for the Falcons over the past three seasons.
“The chemistry between us three was amazing,” Thompson said. “We’ve been playing together since little league and are all really best friends.”
That chemistry is part of the reason why Monroe County has been so successful in Class A baseball over the past three seasons. For the past three years, the Falcons have won the Class A Regional Tournament and competed at the state competition.
Of course, that streak will be broken this year after the spread of COVID-19 forced the cancellation of spring prep sports in the state. But that isn’t stopping these seniors from thinking about going for a four-peat in the their last season as a Falcon.
“I thought we would've had a chance at winning Class A once again,” Thompson said. “We have won it three years in a row, and I felt like we could've done it again even with Glasgow moving back down. It really felt like something great was coming this year.”
The 2020 season would have been the fourth year in a row that would've seen Thompson on the mound for Monroe County. While he is talented in his own right, always having Hagan behind the player was very important to Thompson’s individual success.
“He is a terrific catcher,” Thompson said. “He knows my pitches really well at this point. He could always frame my pitches perfectly after we have played together for so long.”
“I’ve been working with him every offseason and it’s really helped our connection over time,” Hagan added.
However, Rich’s talents on the mound rivaled that of Thompson’s as he would've been a very dependable number two pitcher for the Falcons.
“Grayson is also an excellent infielder as well along with being a great pitcher,” Hagan said. “I really feel like he is just as good as Wade. He is a great all-around player.”
Coach Jerome Taylor II is also very aware of the talent he had with those three senior leaders as he was quick to admit his team’s biggest strengths in 2020.
“We had both of our number one and two pitchers back this year and our catcher who all have played for four years,” Taylor said. “We would've been very set at those positions which are so crucial in baseball. Pitching and defense would’ve been really solid. We really thought we had a good team that would've been prepared for the district tournament.”
“Wade and Grayson both worked really hard at being even better pitchers this season, and they even worked on throwing during basketball season some,” Taylor added with a laugh.
While that trio would have led the way for Taylor’s team this spring, the Falcons also had two other seniors who had taken on important leadership roles with the team: Caulyn Holbrook and Jonah Jenkins.
Holbrook is an accomplished soccer player who will be playing the sport in college after graduation while Jenkins only recently began playing for the Falcons. However, Taylor has quick to mention how important Jenkins was to this year’s team.
“Jonah Jenkins has only been with us for two seasons but he always has great effort,” Taylor said. “He along with the other four seniors all took on leadership roles very well.”
Rounding out the 2020 Falcons would have been a mixture of athletic underclassmen which would have included sophomores Peyton Knudson and Deaton Emmert and freshman John Harlin.
“The underclassman would've made large contributions this year,” Taylor said. “Anywhere from four to five freshmen and sophomores would have been in starting roles.”
In what was mostly considered a 15th District up for grabs this spring, the Falcons felt good about potentially reaching the reaching the region tournament. After reaching region in 2018, the Falcons fell short of that goal in 2019 despite having a winning 13-12 record.
But for the meantime, Thompson and Hagan are choosing to reflect on their time playing for Monroe County. Both played football, basketball and baseball all four years in high school.
Despite their many accomplishments, they will not get to end their careers in Tompkinsville on their own terms. However, both are choosing to look back full of thankfulness for their experiences.
“Once a Falcon, always a Falcon, Thompson said. “I wouldn’t trade my experience at Monroe County for anything. Coach Taylor has just been an amazing coach to play under, and I’m really thankful for my time here.”
“My time here has really meant a lot to me,” Hagan added. “It’s been a huge part of my life to be an athlete here, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”