It was just so fitting.
In the final game he would pitch in his high school career, Daniel Cole gave Harker Heights a gem.
In Game 2 of the Knights’ three-game series in the area-round of the Class 6A playoffs May 12, Cole threw a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 victory over Allen to extend the series to three games. It just happened to be the first area win in Harker Heights baseball history.
Cole surrendered just five hits and walked one while striking out five in the triumph, and he also provided the game’s lone run.
Cole led off the bottom of the fourth with a double before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jackson Rinehart, and he touched home two batters later on a hard-hit grounder to third by Jacob Mitchell.
Thanks to his clutch performance when his team needed him the most, Cole was voted Freddy’s-KDHpressbox.com Player of the Week, the final time the award will be handed out for the 2016-17 school year.
“It means a lot to me, honestly,” Cole said of the honor. “Going through my whole high school career, I’ve won this a few times. But it’s much more special this year, because it’s my last for everything — my final high school game, the final award of the year.
“I made it a point that I really wanted to win it.”
Cole appreciated the community support. He received 50 percent of the vote, just edging Copperas Cove track and field star Josh Canete, who garnered 49 percent of the tally.
Others nominated, both standouts in track and field, as well, were Gatesville’s Jordan Brock and Killeen’s Bobby Smith.
“My family supported me a lot,” Cole said. “My friends supported me a lot; they all spread the word for me. It really just became a community thing.
“You’d see messages sent throughout the school. The teachers were telling their classes about the voting, and it’s just really cool to see the support that I have. It reminds me how much support I’ve had throughout my high school career.”
In regard to his shutout performance, Cole credited his teammates for making him feel so comfortable on the mound.
After the win that night, the senior hurler also applauded the performance of Justin Gordon on the hill in the Knights’ 4-0 loss to Allen in Game 1, and he did so again Saturday.
“We knew Game 1 was going to be tough with their ace on the mound,” Cole said. “We had all the confidence in the world in him to go out and pitch well, and he did. We just didn’t do our job offensively, but he did everything he could and held us in it.”
Cole felt Game 2 in any series is always the momentum game, regardless if a team is up or down 1-0 in the set.
Harker Heights head coach Randy Culp agreed, and he wanted his ace on the mound for the pivotal second tilt.
“He has been spectacular, especially in the big game,” Culp said. “When it’s on the line, he has another gear that he turns on, and that’s pretty special. You don’t get that often from kids, especially at this level.
“When you get to college, you’ll get more of those guys that can deal with those situations. He has been one that has, time and time again, been big. It’s a credit to him and his overall take in how he deals with the game.”
The number “1” was a significant number to Harker Heights this spring in terms of margin of victory. The Knights won five one-run ballgames in District 8-6A play and in the postseason.
Along with its first area-round win in program history, Harker Heights can add another one to the legacy of the 2017 baseball season — Cole won the final player of the week award of the school year by 1 percent.
2016-17 FREDDY'S-KDHPRESSBOX.COM PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
- May 22 - Daniel Cole, Harker Heights
- May 15 - Piper Randolph, Salado
- May 8 - Bailey Tindell, Salado
- May 1 - Tate Harvey, Salado
- April 24 - Emily Gray, Florence
- April 17 - Daniel Cole, Harker Heights
- April 10 - China Galvan, Florence
- April 3 - Reagan Morreale, Salado
- March 27 - Jacob Wilk, Salado
- March 20 - Haven Stevenson, Copperas Cove
- March 13 - Casey Armour, Ellison
- March 6 - Javon Levi, Shoemaker
- Feb. 27 - Trey Sheppard, Salado
- Feb. 20 - Javon Levi, Shoemaker
- Feb. 13 - Devyn Brewton, Shoemaker
- Feb. 6 - J'wan Roberts, Shoemaker
- Jan. 30 - Jason McDonald, Shoemaker
- Jan. 23 - Javon Levi, Shoemaker
- Jan. 16 - Allaira Jones, Gatesville
- Jan. 9 - Wacey Bowland, Gatesville
- Jan. 2 - J'wan Roberts, Shoemaker
- Dec. 26 - Sarah Kate Kelarek, Salado
- Dec. 19 - Presleigh York, Belton
- Dec. 12 - Kerrigan Hearne, Salado
- Dec. 5 - Devyn Brewton, Shoemaker
- Nov. 28 - Dajuan Jones, Ellison
- Nov. 21 - Aaron Torczynski, Salado
- Nov. 14 - Willie McGee, Killeen
- Nov. 7 - Samantha Robinson, Ellison
- Oct. 31 - Jake Harvey, Salado
- Oct. 24 - Jyaire Shorter, Ellison
- Oct. 17 - Alex Thompson, Gatesville
- Oct. 10 - Elicia Barcinas, Ellison
- Oct. 3 - Madu Eneli, Harker Heights
- Sept. 19 - Pablo Alejandro, Harker Heights
- Sept. 12 - Jaylon Hannah, Copperas Cove
- Sept. 5 - Caine Garner, Copperas Cove
- Aug. 29 - Carl Robinson III, Ellison
- Aug. 22 - Aidan Chace, Copperas Cove