Welcome back to another edition of Crawdads Corner! Another season of Crawdads baseball flew by and wrapped up yesterday afternoon. While we didn't make the playoffs, it was certainly a fun season filled with a lot of memorable moments and some exhilarating tarp pulls.
We welcomed over 120,000 fans through the gates of LP Frans Stadium this season. Fans were treated to exciting theme nights, giveaways, and on-field moments. The season even featured two on-field proposals and a soldier's surprise homecoming. One of my favorite nights was our first ever Purr in the Park. Despite the rain that night, fans brought out their cats to the stadium and we had cat themed on-field games and videos throughout the night.
The Crawdads recorded another winning season that included nine walkoff victories. One of the most memorable came courtesy of Tyreque Reed as he hit a pinch-hit homerun in his first at bat as a Crawdad. Reed had arrived in Hickory six hours before coming into the game in the bottom of the ninth. Another notable walkoff came from Bubba Thompson as the clock ticked past midnight in the eleventh inning of a rain-delayed game. Thompson hit a walkoff single to send the 'Dads home winners in a game started by rehabbing Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez.
The 'Dads kept things exciting on the field almost every night, exceeding last year's totals in several stats categories such as homeruns and pitching strikeouts. They hit 121 homeruns, their highest total since 2014. Five hitters reached double digit figures this season, with Sam Huff and Tyreque Reed tied for the team lead with 18 homers. The Crawdads also surpassed last year's strikeout total of 1,151, whiffing 1,197 batters. AJ Alexy led the way with 138 strikeouts as the 'Dads recorded their highest total since 2011 when they struck out 1,199 opposing hitters.
The Crawdads were honored with several awards over the second half. Tyreque Reed and Miguel Aparicio won South Atlantic League Players of the Week. Relief pitcher Demarcus Evans was named to the SAL postseason All-Star team. Evans held opposing hitters to a .149 average (second best in the league) while striking out 103 batters in 56 innings.
The 'Dads were thrilled to host the real royal wedding as Conrad the Crawdad married his longtime sweetheart, Candy. After a dramatic proposal during the YMCA, the two got married in an on-field ceremony attended by some of their closest mascot friends. Players formed a bat tunnel as the wedding party exited the field.
Three new members were inducted into the Claw of Fame this summer as Don Beaver, Luther Beaver, and Charles Young were initiated in a surprise pre-game ceremony. The trio brought baseball to Hickory in 1993 and owned the team for twenty five years, before selling the team to the Texas Rangers last offseason.
The next season may be seven months away but we have already started working on making 2019 our best season yet. Ticket books are already on sale and for a limited time you can get five bonus vouchers for a total of fifteen vouchers for $70. Claw Club and Silver Slugger memberships are also on sale for 2019. Thank you for helping to make the 2018 season incredible and we look forward to seeing you all back at the Frans on April 11th for Opening Day!
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.