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Cliff Williams / The Outlook Central Coosa's Dawson Duncan is a three-sport athlete for the Cougars and that helps his strength both physicall and mentally. He is the Outlook Player of the Week.

With a senior-laden baseball team, Central Coosa knew it could make a lot of strides this year. However, the Cougars have gotten off to a great start, already matching their win total from a season ago despite playing just a handful of games.

This weekend, Central Coosa picked up back-to-back dominating wins over Winterboro, and they were thanks in large part to Dawson Duncan. He is the Outlook Player of the Week. 

“The whole thing is 90% attitude,” Coosa coach Dave Stover said. “He’s listening, following instruction and really focusing on what he’s doing. Wherever I need him, he’ll go. He struggled a bit on the mound last year, but he’s really tightened up. He’s comfortable and that makes a big difference.”

Central Coosa got its first win of the season when Duncan fired a no-hitter against Verbena two weeks ago then the Cougars followed that up with two big wins over Winterboro on Friday and Saturday.

During the wins, Duncan totaled three hits and four RBIs and he smashed his first home run of the season. He scored four times and finished with a batting average of .429.

“He’s making really good contact,” Stover said. “He’s stayed in sports and gotten a lot bigger. He played football and basketball this year and becoming that well-rounded athlete makes him better.”

Not only does playing other sports help Duncan physically, but it also gives him an edge in the mental game. The Cougars got their first taste of success in a long time in a victory to end the football season and the boys basketball season went on to win its area tournament and advance to the sub-regionals. Duncan saw a lot of playing time in the area games and contributed to the big victories.

Now, the Cougars have won three of five games early in the baseball season.

“When we started our season, we were competitive in our first game then we started winning some games,” Stover said. “I’ve always believed in them and they just needed to start believing in themselves. They’re going to keep battling to keep that taste of winning.”

Duncan also has done some good work on the mound this year. During the first game against Winterboro, Duncan fired five innings and struck out 14. There was only one out the Cougars got during that stretch that wasn’t from a Duncan strikeout.

He also allowed only two earned runs and now has a 2.33 ERA on the season.

Although the Cougars have committed a few errors this year, they haven’t let it get out of hand like they did last year. Having a strong defense behind Duncan when he’s pitching well makes things that much easier.

“If we can get away from those freebie walks and even the (errors have) gotten extremely better,” Stover said. “They’re going to make errors but now they’re not letting it linger on them. They’re jumping right back at it. Even when they do make errors, I see them encouraging each other. So they’re responding in a positive way and that makes a world of difference.”

Defensively, Duncan has been essential himself. When he’s not on the mound, Duncan is at first base and after a tough opener, he’s gotten extremely solid.

“I could put him anywhere I want to and he’s going to be at the same level,” Stover said. “He’s a good utility player but at first, he’s been really good defensively.”

In addition to his athletic career, Duncan is a member of the Honor Guard and Stover said Duncan is one of the first to do it from elementary school all the way through senior year.

“That’s really instilled some great discipline in him,” Stover said.

Because Duncan is so coachable, Stover knows although there are improvements to be made, Duncan could be a big key to the Cougars’ success this season.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.