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Wingo's Tucker at throttle of Railroaders

Fulton Railroaders manager Scott Tucker (standing) eyes Monday nightís game against the Paducah Chiefs from the teamís dugout at Lohaus Field.

ERIC WALKER/The Mayfield Messenger



FULTON -- Just after 11 p.m. on May 30, Graves County's 20-win softball season came to an end in the semifinals of the First Region tournament. Then 14 hours later, Lady Eagles head coach Scott Tucker was back on the diamond, albeit a little larger one.

That field was Lohaus Field, which is the home to the Ohio Valley League summer college baseball team, the Fulton Railroaders. It would also become Tucker's home for the next two months and the 27-man roster would become like new family members.

"It was a whirlwind," Tucker recalled Monday of transitioning from high school softball coach to collegiate baseball manager. "We got beat by Marshall County that Wednesday night at 11:15. The next day at 1 o'clock, I was coaching men.

"It's a smaller ball. We're back to throwing overhand, but it's just ball."

"Ball" has been a major part of the Wingo native's life. He would go on to play for the pre-high school consolidation Indians under coach Wayne Wadlington, and then for legendary baseball coach Johnny Reagan at Murray State University.

Much of his coaching career, however, has been with young ladies and softball. Prior to taking over for Graves County this year, Tucker spent four seasons as the head coach at Murray High School.

Tucker, who will return as Graves' softball coach for 2019, said he wasn't looking to take on a baseball coaching role but was simply asked by a friend whose family was part owner of the Railroaders if he might be interested.

"I just wanted to try it and see," said Tucker, whose last baseball game as a player was in the 1983 Ohio Valley Conference tournament. "I know baseball just like I do softball. Basically this is the same game I was playing when I got out of college.

"I told them who I am and how I do things and that I wouldn't coach my guys any different than I coach my girls," he said. "I expect nothing but 110 percent every time they hit the field. I guess they bought into it."

Richard Parham, who is one of the team's 11 owners, noted that Tucker's experience with baseball and coaching, as well as being raised just 13 miles down State Route 45, were a few of the positive attributes he brought to the table.

"We kinda hit it off; we're a lot alike," Parham said. "It didn't bother us that he was a softball coach. We just thought this guy can do the job. He impressed us."

Fulton's first day of the 2018 season was also Tucker's first day as manager. With a short-handed 15-man roster that included five pitchers, the Railroaders endured a 3-5 start in the eight-team league.

After the remainder of the team reported Sunday, they rebounded in a big way Monday against nearby rival Paducah. The Railroaders trailed the Chiefs 6-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning and rallied for five runs with a walkoff single clinching the 7-6 victory.

Former Graves County player and Fulton utilityman Austin Jones drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game during the rally prior to the game-winning single by R.J. Green.

Tucker said with a complete team that features a 13-pitcher arsenal, consistency will help stabilize things as they move forward for the remaining 32 regular-season games.

"We can now have a rotation, so now kids know when they're throwing," he said. "We have so many bats. If you're not hitting right now, take a seat and somebody else is going to get a shot."

Even in the midst of the task at hand, Tucker said he is looking forward to next year's Graves County softball season. He chuckled at the obvious question of comparing coaching softball and baseball.

"No comparison. Totally different dugouts; totally different bus rides," he said. "It's a completely different beast."