Throughout the season, the Westminster baseball team, under the tutelage of first-year head coach Russell Wrenn, has battled fiercely in countless games. Time and time again they have come extremely close to an important win only to have it be lost in the last moments. Despite these tough defeats, the Cats have made the playoffs yet again, and as the tables are reset for the playoffs, they are eager to make a final push for the state championship.
Their most recent key win came away from home against Greater Atlanta Christian on April 27. With an outstanding performance from junior flamethrower Chip Capper, this crucial victory earned the Cats the fourth seed from region 6-AA and has them poised to make a run in the playoffs with their growing momentum.
“The key to our run in the state playoffs is our underclassmen,” said senior outfielder Rivers Patterson. “We need the whole team to step up if we want to make it far.”
The seniors serve as the backbone of the team, providing much-needed leadership and guidance to the young talent on the team. The BatCats are not suffering from a lack of leadership: all six seniors were nominated captains of the squad by the coach and the other team members.
“We try to create an environment,” said senior shortstop Coleman Poje, “where the younger kids can look up to each and every senior on the team for motivation and leadership.”
Two seniors, pitcher Mitchell Brister and first baseman Raymond Monasterski, will continue playing together at the next level at Washington and Lee University and have done much to lead the team on and off the field this season. Their ability to play together can only benefit them at the next level where a big focus will be placed on team unity. But Brister and Monasterski are not the only players to have stepped up and led the team this year.
Only six out of the 22 players on the squad are seniors. With seven sophomores and seven juniors on the team, the Cats rely on their young players more than most. Hopefully, this year can be an insightful learning experience for the newest varsity members that will help them for years to come.
The BaseCats’ regular season record was 12-13, with most losses coming against teams from higher divisions or out-of-state schools. The few key losses that have plagued the Wildcats came against Blessed Trinity, Buford, and Lovett, all of whom are ranked in the state. These three arch-rivals have extremely strong baseball programs that will be tough competition in the state tournament. This year, Buford defends its title, while Blessed Trinity and Lovett serve as perennial contenders.
On March 30, the Cats faced Buford in a grueling 10-inning game. The game was tied at three all after seven innings, so the game went into extra innings where Buford managed to scrape out a win in the tenth after two scoreless innings. In the region scramble, the Cats have lost once more to Buford and to Lovett. But that does not dampen the team’s spirits.
“Our main goal for the second half of the season was to grow substantially more as a team,” said senior pitcher Grey Notermann. “That way, we can surprise [the region] in the state playoffs.”
There is no question with a record below .500 that the Cats have faced many challenges, but the future, both immediate and long term, looks promising. Riding the momentum of season sweeps of Decatur and GAC, the Cats are poised to play the role of the underdog in its best-of-three series in the state playoffs, but no matter what happens in the playoffs, the Wildcats are sure to be strong next year. Freshman third baseman Connor Stutts and sophomore infielders Conrad Cornell and Nelson Douglas have made recognizable differences even as first-year varsity players.
All in all, the most important part of the season is now the playoff run the BatCats are poised to make, which begins at Callaway on May 4. With their growing momentum and unity, the Wildcats should be no easy match for tough competition like Lovett and Buford. Playing away during most of the playoffs should not be a challenge for the Cats; seven out of the BaseCats’ twelve wins have come on the road this season. Thus, as they hope to surprise the competition as a fourth seed, the Cats are prepared to drive many miles in order to achieve what may be a special season.