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For Travis Mattingly, growing up in a small town like Washington County is the only thing he has ever known.
And that’s fine by him.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mattingly said. “Everybody knows everybody around here. You go to the hardware store, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, you just know everybody that works there, and that’s a good feeling.”
One of the best ways Mattingly has found of getting to know people is through sports, and it all started when his father, Jerry Mattingly, signed him up for tee-ball.
Mattingly has been playing baseball ever since.
His favorite part of the game? That would be the relationships that he has built from Little League to varsity.
“You’re pretty much a family,” Mattingly said. “You win together, you lose together. If one person doesn’t show up, it can affect the whole game. I like that part of it, the closeness of it. You get to come out here and do things that other kids don’t get to do every day.
You’re friendly with everybody, got a close bond with everyone.”
Mattingly, a starting third baseman and pitcher for WC, got his first varsity start during last year’s opening game, an 11-1 win over Fort Knox.
For Mattingly, it was “one of the best feelings ever.”
“I remember I went 2-for-3 in that game,” he said. “Being able to help the team win, that felt great.”
But that performance paled in comparison when stacked up against his most memorable moment playing baseball.
In a game against Campbellsville last season, the team was down 9-3 at one point. WC made a ferocious comeback, cutting its deficit all the way down to one. That’s when
Mattingly came up to bat with the bases loaded.
One triple and three RBI later, he became the hero with his game-clinching hit.
“Being able to drive in the two winning runs, the ones that put us back on top, it was very exciting,” he said. “It was a rush.”
Mattingly could be described as a jack-of-all-trades type of player, but according to him, his greatest strength is his hitting ability, something he started to figure out during his last season of Little League ball.
After being the “third-best hitter in the league,” Mattingly began to gain some confidence in that area.
“I thought then that maybe I could be an OK hitter,” he said.
As a starting pitcher who credits his best talent as hitting, Mattingly has a different perspective than many players.
On one hand, he knows what it’s like to try and outwit the pitcher at the plate.
“Knowing that the pitcher thinks he can get you out, and you get that hit, there’s a lot of pride knowing you hit the ball like that,” Mattingly said. “There’s a rush of enjoyment that you can hit the ball that hard.”
And on the other, he knows the thrill of striking out a hitter.
“It’s always a great feeling getting the batter out,” Mattingly said. “They think they’re better than you, and it’s good knowing you proved them wrong.”
With graduation just around the corner, Mattingly will be attending Campbellsville University next season, where he plans to play baseball.
He’ll also be looking to major in criminal justice in hopes of becoming a probation officer.
“Being able to have a little bit of authority and mean something to somebody, that is really something that interests me,” he said.
While Mattingly is away at college, he already knows that he’ll miss being able to know a random person on the street.
“I’m just going to miss all the people,” Mattingly said. “You go off to college, and you don’t know anybody. It’s like you have to start all over.”