5:30 p.m. Horn Lake and Madison Central are almost finished. Temple gives a spirited pregame talk to his players.

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2001

The Jaguars are a hungry team after losing their first matchup with WC, 1-0, in Madison. They are throwing their best pitcher, Bo Bradberry, who has one of the best sliders around.

The message is simple: leave the slider, sit on the fastball and drill it. WC’s forte in the past five years has been hitting fastballs. Bradberry’s slider is biting. One player simply calls it “nasty.”

Broome and Temple chart pitches, trying to find something, anything, to exploit.

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They pick up on something in Bradberry’s pitch pattern and study it. Right every time.

All the while, the Vikings stick with their fastball philosophy. First pitch, second, third it doesn’t matter: Fastball, hit it.

The game is moving fast. WC is hitting Bradberry, but not many sneak through the Jaguars’ defense. On defense, the Vikings are again riding the blazing hot arm of Tankersley. He was on the hill in the win the week before.

The Vikings finally break through on a hit by Simmons, the No. 9 hitter, which scores pinch-runner Jeff Mitchell.

Temple loves the fact that no one knows where the big hit will come from.

“They all believe in one another and we all believe in them,” Temple said. “There may be people over there not in the lineup that we believe in. If you’ve seen the evolution of the team this year, there have been some additions.”

Mitchell’s run is enough to sustain a win, 1-0 again, and the team gathers down the right-field line.

“Take a knee,” Temple says, then drops down and pumps his fist toward the ground several times. The players are smiling. Even Temple breaks into a grin.

“When he pumps that fist, he’s telling them he’s pretty proud, that he has no complaints,” Broome said.

Temple added, “That’s a little trademark after a big ballgame. If I don’t give them that little fist pump, they get mad at me. They get a lot of approvals from me and I think that is one of the biggest.”

Back on the field, the players pull out tarps for the pitcher’s mound and home plate. Some are raking the infield and others do minor chores. Soon the day will be over.

Parents and players mill around for a while, talking baseball. Temple and Broome are back in their offices. Broome adds stats; Temple sits at his desk, writhing from the pain in his knees.

It’s now about 8:30 and Temple knows his wife Kristin is waiting at home.

“I could sit up here for hours sometimes do,” he said.

“That gets me in trouble,” he added with a grin.

A couple more parents stop in to offer the last cold chicken sandwich to the coach, but it’s only a hour since the game ended … he can’t eat.

“Days like today make all the hours of cutting grass and weed-eating and edging all worth it,” Temple said. “I’m not talking about W’s, I’m just talking about being with (the guys).”

10:30 p.m. He’s in trouble now. It’s two hours since he could have gone home, but he has been talking baseball in his office.

“A coach once told me, There’s a special place in heaven for coaches’ wives,'” Temple said.

After setting the alarm and listening to another freight train rumble behind the outfield wall, Temple’s day at the ballpark is over. Two good wins. Two more toward a state championship run.

“Taylor has a message on his cell phone that says, last run,'” Coker said. “This is our last run together and we’ll be damned if we’ll let anything mess it up. This run is our run at greatness. We’ve been together for so long, this is it.”

And so is a busy Saturday at Viking Field. Temple shuts off the stadium lights, climbs back in the truck, and heads home.

Sunday will be Kristin’s day always is. Warren Central baseball is put on hold. No practice, no game; just a day away from it all.

Well …

“I have an all-star coaches meeting at 2 in Clinton tomorrow,” Temple said.

Oh, well. At least the grass doesn’t need to be cut.