1957 SEASON – THE LEON NINE (Democrat Article)

Submitted by Max Cole ‘58
Max Cole and Keith Pitchford, a pair of juniors, chalked up the top pitching and hitting records for Leon High’s baseballers during a 6-3 season. Cole, who moved in from Pennsylvania last year and made a name for himself as a ball-hawking guard in basketball, won the batting title with a .400 average. Pitchford, taking up the slack on a mound staff weakened by the graduation of Squirrel Perkins and Donnie McCreary, won four out of five decisions in his first varsity season. Cole, a hustler all the way, punched out 10 singles in 25 times at bat and caught all but the last game despite having a pinched nerve in one hand all season. Centerfielder, Ronnie Simpson, batting champion with a .513 mark as a freshman in 1954, finished second with a .368 average this spring. Shortstop Jack Dull, who won the batting title at .404 as a sophomore and was runner-up at .412 last year, came I third this season with a .333 average. One other regular, second baseman, Wallace Hickey, finished in the .300 circle – hitting it right on the nose. Simpson, Dull and Hickey are seniors. Junior leftfielder Jerry Bruce led in runs batted in with eight. Dull and Hickey both scored seven runs. Junior third baseman Tommy Simmons hit three doubles. Simpson and Dull three triplets each and Bruce blasted the only home run. Pitchford, son of FSU tennis coach, worked 29 1/3 innings. He struck out 23 and walked only nine. Senior right hander Donald Hanson pasted a 2-2 record and also worked 29 innings. The Lions lost only to Gainesville in five official Northeast Conference games but that victory gave Gainesville its second straight Western Division title. Leon split with Bay High of Panama City in a pair of Group 1-AA games to share the crown. Bay will represent Group 1 in the state Class AA tournament for the first time in many years.