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Nixa catcher Edwards proves his worth in batter's box and behind plate


SPRINGFIELD — Jack Edwards has most often gone about his business anonymously in his three varsity seasons. But the Nixa catcher attracts the spotlight in the post-season.

Edwards was 2-for-2 with a walk in the Eagles’ 3-2 Class 6 District 6 semifinal win against Neosho on Friday. He had a sacrifice fly RBI in NIxa’s 4-2 first-round win over Carthage.

And, of course, Edwards delivered a two-run single as part of the Eagles’ four-run seventh inning in their 6-2 triumph at Republic in last year’s District championship game.

“I realize it's our last run, so I lock in and put everything I have together,” Edwards said of his post-season success. "I like hitting under pressure. It makes me concentrate better.”

Edwards singled to left-center and doubled to right-center against Neosho. Primarily a pull hitter, he was especially pleased with his double the opposite way.

“That was a nice barrel, good timing,” Edwards said. “I like going to the opposite field. That's when you know everything is connected and your swing is going good. It makes me a better hitter when I have different options and use the whole field.”

Edwards’ hitting has been sporadic as a senior, as he’s adjusted from a wide-open stance to a slightly wide-open stance.

“I was way open at the beginning of the year. But that wasn't working,” he said. “The reason I went open is because I see the pitches better. But it was messing with my timing. I closed it off a little bit.”

“Jack's been battling all year, trying to figure stuff out,” coach Logan Hughes said. “No matter how long it takes, the kid's a good player. He’s been our hottest guy lately. He's confident and confident guys are tough to get out. We needed him tonight.”

Edwards’ work behind the plate was also magnified. In the fifth inning, he framed a Jackson Gamble pitch to induce a called strike three to end a Neosho threat.

By all accounts, the pitch was out of the strike zone.

"It was maybe a ball low, right below the hitter's knees,” Edwards said. “It took a little bit of a nudge to get it to be a strike, just enough so the (umpire) would call it. That's what I like to do, work on my framing.”

“I didn't think that was a strike,” Gamble said. “He steals strikes for me all the time. It's cool to watch, You can hardly notice him doing it. He makes me think some balls are strikes and the umpire believes it, too.”

“Jack was awesome back there tonight,” Hughes added. “We had so many balls down in the zone that he did a good job getting below them and getting them in the zone.”

Gamble looks ahead to his senior season next year and hopes the Eagles can find another catcher as capable as Edwards. 

“I'm going to miss him next year,” Gamble said. “Jack is an amazing catcher. He helps the pitchers out so much. He doesn't get recognized enough for all he does. He's such an underrated weapon to our entire team.”