Softball team named region champions during inaugural season in the new KCB Stadium

As the exciting season came to an end, the Batcats finished as region champions, and as the first Westminster softball team to ever play in the new Kathie Capano Bekkers “KCB”  stadium. After last year’s devastating tie-breaking loss in their final region game, the Cats sprang back into action this year and finished undefeated in their region. The Batcats were dominant throughout the entire season, finishing with a record of 17-4 in the regular season, proving their talent despite losing multiple starters from the previous year. 

Going into the new season, the coaches and teams around the region had low expectations for the Wildcats.

“My coaching colleagues from around the region thought that we were not going to do well this season,” said head coach Brent McGuire. “We have a preseason communication with all the region coaches to talk about what’s expected from each team and they placed us as the number three seed, under Sandy Creek and GAC. To me, this ranking lit a fire inside our team, and it motivated us to prove that our team is better than just a number three seed.”

After strong performances from Sandy Creek and GAC in the past season, the Batcats headed into the upcoming season expecting two very tough games against these formidable opponents. However, during the first game versus GAC, the Batcats dominated, winning 12-1 with stellar hitting performances from the entire lineup. 

“We knew we would face a very good GAC team, especially playing at their home field,” said McGuire. “They’re scrappy, they’re competitive, and I felt that it was our best region game of the year. It says a lot anytime you run rule GAC.”

By beating their first major region opponent on their home field, the Batcats demonstrated their talent to other teams around the region and earned a reputation as a tough opponent. After their win over GAC, the Batcats needed to focus on their second major region opponent, Sandy Creek.

With the heartbreaking loss to Sandy Creek the year before still fresh in their minds, the Wildcats came ready to play and decisively beat the Patriots three to two. 

“I think the first time we played Sandy Creek really boosted our chances to become region champs,” said senior Sydney Moore. “We came out and played strong and won 3-2.”

After the Wildcat’s decisive wins over their region rivals GAC and Sandy Creek, the Cats knew that they had a great chance to win the region if they continued playing hard. 

The Batcats ended the regular season with a 12-0 region record and ended up beating both GAC and Sandy Creek again later in the season. 

The addition of the new KCB stadium has had a positive impact on the team as a whole and has contributed to the Batcats’ success this season. The Batcats recently relocated from the Lower School recess field to the spectacular KCB stadium in the heart of Westminster’s athletic complex. Finished in August 2021, the stadium has brought a newfound energy to the fans and team that has never been seen before. 

“It creates a more fun environment and a better experience,” said WCAT commentator sophomore Kate Matheson. “Everyone wants to come out to see the new field.” The new stadium has brought more fans, giving the Batcats more motivation and support than ever.

One key factor to the team’s success this year was the return of junior Quinn Schaeffer, the team’s lead-off hitter and always dependable shortstop. During the 2020 season, Schaeffer suffered a knee injury that left her sidelined for the majority of the year. 

“While being out last year was tough, it helped me learn a lot more about the sport and how the team works,” said Schaeffer. “This year I was able to implement what I learned and help the team out on the field.” 

Schaeffer returned to the field this season and made over 50 outs at shortstop, leading the team in fielding completion percentages. Her determination and leadership has set an example for the team, especially the underclassman, and has played a major role in the team’s success.

“Her defense was just incredible,” said assistant coach Bill Caldwell. “Everybody saw what Quinn was doing, and our team was just so much better all around defensively. Getting Quinn back was huge for the team this season.”

Having a shortstop as reliable as Schaeffer made a big difference in the team this year. While losing six valuable players from the season before was difficult for the team, having Schaeffer and other new young starters improved the team overall and contributed to their success. 

Another crucial addition to the team this year was assistant coach Layne McLaughlin. Formerly a softball coach at rival high school, Lovett, McLaughlin came into her first year with the Batcats ready to win. 

“I knew that we had young talent, but being new I didn’t know what expectations to hold,” said McLaughlin. “I was very pleased from what I saw at the beginning of the season, especially during summer practices, and I was surprised by how good our young talent really was.”

 McLaughlin brings softball knowledge and experience from being both a former player and from having coached softball for several years. She not only helps the players to become better athletes but also offers advice and initiates team bonding experiences outside of practices and games. She knows the importance of being close with teammates on and off the field and teaches players how to become more influential leaders. 

“It’s nice to have a young female role model who helps us on and off the field, and gives us goals for our lives outside of softball,” said sophomore Cameron Hill.

McLaughlin’s role on the softball team will continue to grow in the coming years. With the recent retirement of head coach Brent McGuire, McLaughlin will soon become the permanent head coach of the team in the coming year. McLaughlin is working to build the best team possible, and even aspires to advance to a state championship in the near future. 

“The team knows what it feels like to win, and they know what it feels like to lose,” said McLaughlin. “Hopefully the team will remember the feeling of winning but also use that tough feeling when we lose, to fuel us as we head into the offseason and prepare for next season.” 

The Batcats are expecting many winter and spring practices, where they will focus on developing their physical strength and knowledge of the game. Fans can look forward to seeing the Cats back in action next fall, with a new head coach, and a highly talented team.