Back from injury, Cloud now provides veteran leadership for Boyle

April 15, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

After missing most of an entire baseball season, Brad Cloud has found that things are a little different than the last time he played regularly.

The makeup of his Boyle County team has changed, and so has Cloud's role within it. But Cloud said he's just glad to be on the field again.

"I was really excited to get to play," he said. "I was really ready to go get after it."

Cloud sat out all but the final stages of last season while recovering from shoulder surgery, so it's understandable that he'd be itching for the chance to get to this season.

But he finds himself in an unfamiliar situation as one of the few veterans on a team relying on a number of first-year starters, a switch from his former role as a younger contributor on a veteran team.


"He's not used to this. Before he was the young one, and now we've got all these young players," Boyle coach David Camic said.

It has little impact on Cloud's performance. He is as dangerous a hitter as there is in the Boyle lineup, a strong defender in either the infield or the outfield and even an occasional pitcher.

"He's a leader on the field," Camic said.

Cloud had surgery after the 2002 football season to repair a torn labrum, and the ensuing recovery time sidelined him for all but the end of the following baseball season.

He said the recovery was complete, and he was pain-free throughout the last football season and remains so to this day.

"I feel good this year," he said. "I don't even feel it."

After slow start, he's hitting about .370

That means it's opposing pitchers who will feel probably feel the pain. Cloud, who hits third in the Boyle lineup, started slowly at the plate, but through Boyle's first 11 games he was hitting about .370 and had two home runs.

"I'd as soon have him at the plate as as anybody I've ever coached," Camic said.

His role on defense depends on the makeup of the lineup. He is playing primarily at shortstop but has also seen time in center field.

He has become the closer for Boyle's pitching staff, coming on to pitch the final inning or so three times in its first eight games and earning two saves.

"It's fun to come in and close out the game," he said. "I wouldn't want to pitch a whole game."

Catching was Cloud's specialty for the Boyle football team. He was the Rebels' leading receiver last year with 49 catches for 804 yards and nine touchdowns, and he led the team in tackles (100) and interceptions (five) as a defensive back.

Cloud could continue to play both baseball and football after he leaves Boyle - he said his favorite sport is "whichever one's in season" - though his future plans are presently more firm in football.

"I've just got to see how it goes right now," he said. "If I happen to earn a (baseball) scholarship, I'll think about playing."

Leaning toward Western Kentucky

Cloud has an opportunity to become a preferred walk-on at Western Kentucky University, and he said that's the direction he's leaning. He's also talking to Western's baseball coach, Joel Murrie, about the possibility of joining that team.

Meanwhile, he's hoping to close his high school sports career with one more championship. He said the Rebels, though young, are still capable of winning a regional title, and he is enjoying watching the new players in the lineup get better game by game.

"Right now, with a young team, we just want to win games," he said. "They're good players; they just need time to grow and develop. You can see they've got it in them."

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