Noel Boucher has had an impressive coaching career at Conway.
His Wampus Cats added to the legacy on Friday with a thrilling extra-inning win which wrapped up the outright 7A/6A-Central crown with a 10-4 win against Greenwood and moved the venerable coach closer to a landmark.
Boucher is now just one win shy of the 600-win mark in his 30th season at the school.
The conference championship is the 15th for Conway (17-8, 11-3) since Boucher revived the baseball program in 1985.
“It’s been an interesting season,” Boucher said. “We have 13 seniors and every one of those have been hurt and had to sit out. We’ve had to put things together, but that’s a credit to them. They’re playing well and we’re happy how things are going.”
Conway will receive a first-round bye in the 7A State Tournament at Burns Park in North Little Rock.
“No one has ever won the (7A) state tournament without that bye,” Boucher said. “It’s a quirk in the system.”
Greenwood (10-14, 6-8) will be the fourth seed in the 6A State Tournament in Benton and will play at 12:30 p.m. Thursday likely against Pine Bluff but possibly against Texarkana. The 7A/6A-South concluded play on Friday.
“We ended up 6-8 and sometimes there is a small difference between the first and the fifth place team,” Greenwood head coach Randy Gardner said. “We’re a prime example of that. We had the lead in the fifth inning twice on Conway and they won the conference. We beat Catholic and they finished second. We beat Southside once and they finished third. We play great for 80 percent of the game.”
Conway cracked a 3-3 tie with seven unearned runs in the top of the eighth, sent 12 batters to the plate and took advantage of a lead-off passed ball on a strike out, two errors and two hit batsmen. Carson Cook drove in two runs with a single and Kolby Reck doubled in a run for Conway’s only hits in the inning.
“We had to play that one extra inning to get that inning we’ve had all season,” Gardner said. “That’s the longest half inning in extra innings that I’ve ever been involved in. You have to laugh at it or cry.”