No spectator regulations leads to huge fan turnout at varsity baseball games

Lined+up+on+the+brick+wall+behind+the+baseball+field%2C+fans+and+younger+players+sit+and+watch+varsity+defeat+CBC+16-6%2C+Wednesday%2C+March+31.+The+team+rallied+for+eight+runs+in+an+explosive+fifth+inning%2C+leading+to+an+inevitable+mercy-rule+finish+after+five+innings.+%E2%80%9CThe+student+section+at+baseball+games+was+really+laid+back+and+a+lot+of+fun+as+we+talked+about+the+game+more+and+explained+certain+situations+to+people+who+were+confused+or+interested+in+learning%2C%E2%80%9D+senior+fan+Carson+McCormack+said.+%E2%80%9CThe+fans+were+able+to+be+around+the+great+weather+and+talk+with+friends.%E2%80%9D

Julie Walkoff

Lined up on the brick wall behind the baseball field, fans and younger players sit and watch varsity defeat CBC 16-6, Wednesday, March 31. The team rallied for eight runs in an explosive fifth inning, leading to an inevitable mercy-rule finish after five innings. “The student section at baseball games was really laid back and a lot of fun as we talked about the game more and explained certain situations to people who were confused or interested in learning,” senior fan Carson McCormack said. “The fans were able to be around the great weather and talk with friends.”

Varsity baseball has started their season with seven wins and one loss, their best start since 2006 when the team finished 14-10. A big difference between this year and years past? Fan turnout. Because of COVID-19, school sports have not been able to have unlimited fans since the 2019 winter sports season. But with spectator rules recently lifted, the stands at baseball games have been packed.

“During my freshman year, it was rare to see any of the student body at a varsity baseball game,” senior shortstop Elliot Krewson said. “But this year, each home game is packed with more fans than senior night of my freshman year.”

Krewson, a four year varsity letter, has seen the baseball program from many different perspectives. After losing his junior season, the senior stepped up and made it his mission to make this year special.

“I believe the energy and environment provided by the fans fuels the team to gain momentum and never let off the gas during the game,” Krewson said. “During the game, I mostly notice the high number of fans, but I do not recognize them individually. I try to use their energy to my benefit while not getting distracted too much to affect my play.”

Other players, like senior second baseman Griffin Snyder, find themselves in their first full season with the team and have to play in a whole new environment.

“It definitely helps the team stay engaged,” Snyder said. “When something positive happens, we have more than just our teammates to celebrate with. Personally, I get fired up yelling or feeding off the energy from my fellow students being present.”

Most fans that appear in the crowd have close ties to players or coaches on the team.

“Myself along with a few of my teammates have a very good group of friends. We have friends that really care about our success and want to support us,” Snyder said. “I think due to being a tight-knit group of students, it leads to more success as an athletic program all around.”

One fan who has attended every game, senior Carly Kuehl, leads the student sections for games, coming up with ideas to cheer for the team.

It finally feels like things are starting to go back to normal and we are able to have more fans at games cheering on all of our friends. I love being able to watch the games because next year, after I graduate, I won’t be able to go and watch the games.”

— Carly Kuehl

“Since outdoor sports are able to have unlimited spectators, the baseball boys have been advertising the games on their Snapchat stories, which has gotten many juniors and seniors to be at the games to cheer the boys on,” Kuehl said. “In the stands, we will look up the opposing teams rosters and start yelling their names and messing with them, which is really funny and adds a lot of energy to the games.”

Students have been going to games more often this year because they lost the opportunity to go to football and basketball games.

“It finally feels like things are starting to go back to normal and we are able to have more fans at games cheering on all of our friends. I love being able to watch the games because next year, after I graduate, I won’t be able to go and watch the games,” Kuehl said. “I’ve been trying to make the most out of the new lifted restrictions and not taking for granted the opportunity to support the teams like I have in the past before COVID.”

Head coach Andrew Jett, in his first full season as a varsity coach, has stepped up in a role for the team, leading an explosive offense that averages 10.25 runs per game.

“It always feels good seeing the success from your hard work,” Jett said. “However, it is all about how you end the season, not how you begin it.”

Although the games have been packed, the crowd size still doesn’t compare to old basketball or football games.

“I think the more we promote [attendance at games], the more people will be willing to show up,” Jett said.

Students also seem to have their own ideas for how to draw more fans.

“I think our West Superfan account could do a lot better on advertising games like they did last year. Last year the stands were always packed,” Kuehl said. “I think creating themes and getting the word out will catch the attention of students at West and make them want to support their fellow students.”

Despite changes in attendance, Krewson still maintains the same perspective that he has had since his freshman year.

“I am blessed to be surrounded by great teammates and supportive coaches that have my back,” Krewson said. “So it makes taking risks for the team all the easier.”