Cougars outfielders show off defensive skills

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By Andrew Harner

GREENUP – His coach called it unbelievable.

A long-time teammate said there must have been a trampoline in the outfield.

His acrobatics left part of the crowd stunned and part of the crowd in a frenzy over one of the finest catches a person will see at the high school level.

It was a good day to be South Central senior Austin Schwarm last Wednesday, as he made a leaping catch in left field to rob a two-run double, and also homered as part of a 16-hit barrage that gave the Cougars an 11-3 win against North Clay in the sectional semifinals.

“I have no idea,” Schwarm said of how he caught the ball. “I barely got it in my glove.”

Schwarm  and senior centerfielder Rudy Hablewitz were each closing in on a ball hit to the gap with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

With the ball dropping, Schwarm knew he had to make an all-out effort to try to make the catch and end a North Clay rally that had already brought home two runs.

Floating several feet through the air, Schwarm somehow landed with the ball in his glove.

“There’s a trampoline out there somewhere,” said senior shortstop Fischer Tharp. “I probably had the best view of it … it was just spectacular.

“I didn’t think he had a chance.”

Schwarm’s catch came two batters after Hablewitz made a leaping catch near the warning track on a sacrifice fly.

Hablewitz previously had secured the Cougars’ regional championship with a sliding catch to end the 4-3 win against Altamont on May 18, and that type of defense is imperative once a team gets to the postseason.

“As Schwarm and Rudy have showed, we aren’t letting anything drop,” Tharp said. “We’re trying to make plays and force other teams to beat us.”

Had Schwarm not come up with the catch, two runs would have scored for North Clay, which may have chipped off some of the confidence for senior hurler Dan Diss, who pitched in the game despite throwing 102 pitches just four days earlier.

Even though South Central would have had an 11-5 lead if those runs scored, one shift in momentum in North Clay’s favor could have propelled to the Cardinals to even more offense.

So it’s understandable that coach Curt Jones let out a sigh of relief when that out was made.

“Schwarm made an unbelievable catch out there,” Jones said. “My gosh, that was a big catch.”