By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Cody Bo Dillard didn’t get much of a break this season.
In what is easily labeled one of the state’s toughest baseball schedules, East Union’s senior ace took the hill in a lot of them.
He took the hill in Pearl, too, as East Union won the North title and lost in two games to Taylorsville in the MHSAA Class 2A state championship series.
“We played a bunch of good teams. I think it’s the toughest schedule I’ve had since I’ve been there. I think it made us better,” Dillard said.
Dillard is the 2013 Daily Journal Player of the Year.
The tough scheduling is an emphasis of Urchins’ coach Chris Basil, who doesn’t mind a .500 record if it results in a playoff run. Basil couldn’t find a word to describe Dillard; then he found a bunch.
“Leader, great character, attitude, unbelievable potential at the next level, an example for young kids to follow, big-time family guy, faith, courage. I could go on,” Basil said. “I could go on. A lot of that credit goes to his family.”
The schedule featured Class 3A state champion Kossuth, 6As Columbus and Tupelo, 5As Oxford and Saltillo, as well as division opponents and 2A contenders Hatley and Baldwyn and perennial Ala-bama Class 5A title contender Spanish Fort twice. The pressure of top-notch hitters didn’t faze Dillard.
“I feel like I just calm down. I’ve just got to do my job,” Dillard said.
Through it all, the Northeast CC signee finished with a 1.42 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 782⁄3 innings though 17 appearances.
Not to mention, he hit .402 with a pair of home runs, 30 RBI and 10 doubles. He stole all 20 bases he tried to steal and was named Division 1-2A Player of the Year.
“We had two aces, no doubt,” Basil said of Dillard and Austin Sanders. “Cody Bo wanted the ball when it came down to it. He wasn’t going to get away from it.
“He never takes credit for anything. He never had a bad outing. He’s just an old country boy that loves the game.”