Bird noises and bocce balls: Varsity baseball has their most successful season in over 10 years

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Julie Walkoff

Celebrating the third win of the season, senior Elliot Krewson and sophomore Tyler Lang finish the game with a shoulder bump before leaving the field. The team beat SLUH 8-0, March 26, and began the season with three consecutive wins. “The beginning of the season made it clear that we would be special,” Lang said. “I think we all knew that we had a solid lineup and everyone had the intent of making it far into the playoffs.”

Finishing up the regular season 21-3, varsity baseball was selected as the first seed in the second district of class five, the highest the team has been seeded since before 2009. The last time the team had more than 20 wins was 2001.

Wrapping up his final appearance on the mound for the regular season, junior and pitcher Luke Wright gave up two runs in the eight to three win over St. Francis Borgia high school. The ace had a regular season Earned Run Average (ERA) of 1.00 and a 7-1 record on days that he pitched.

“I think everyday in practice our hard work leads us to being so successful,” Wright said. “We bond together and build relationships that help our team. We always have high energy which keeps our play at a high level.”

According to sophomore and catcher Tyler Lang, high energy has been the motto all year. The dugout always has noise pouring out of it, especially when the batter is in a full count. With a three and two count, the players in the dugout start making bird noises after the command ‘Unleash the Coop’ is called.

“‘Unleash the Coop’ gets the entire team to focus on that pitch and I believe when the entire team is involved we are at our best,” Lang said. “As a hitter it gives me confidence that my teammates have my back and that they believe in me.”

Another team tradition is the bocce ball. During the season opener, Wright found a bocce ball and stuck it in his bag. He went on to throw a complete game shutout, and start the season with a win. From then on, whoever is pitching has kept the ball in their bag for their entire outing, moving the ball whenever a new pitcher comes in.

“It’s another tradition that helps us play the way we do, the bocce ball symbolizes the way we shut other teams down on the mound,” Wright said. “It’s just one of those things that gives us good luck while we pitch, it helps us prepare a little better.”

Hidden within all of the wins, there were a few close games, one of which was against Rockwood Summit. According to head coach and math teacher Andrew Jett, the 10-8 win over the Falcons was a much anticipated one.

“Summit was a district opponent, under the lights, and the crowd was the biggest we’ve had,” Jett said. “With how big of a game it was, it was probably the most exciting game all year.”

Another close finish, and big momentum boost, was against Seckman. The battle at home lasted all seven innings and according to Wright, it ended in a fairytale way.

Getting ready to release a fastball, senior Griffin Snyder pitches a ball to Festus. “This season my biggest accomplishment had been going 4/4 with a home run,” Snyder said. “I had much bigger goals though, like winning districts, sectionals, and state.” (Julie Walkoff)

“When Cooper Walkoff hit a walk-off homerun, the energy from it was unmatched,” Wright said. “We battled back and never lost energy. That walk-off homerun boosted our spirits and helped us to continue on our run.”

In his first full season as a varsity head coach, Jett has proved to fit the role well. Building relationships with his players and other teams, the coach continues to roll with the rest of the boys.

“I think it is awesome watching the guys interact with each other. We have a great mixture of young and old on the team and the way the guys enjoy being around each other and laughing with one another is amazing,” Jett said. “It is important for me and the guys to continue having fun doing what we love.”

One player, senior and shortstop Elliot Krewson, has played at the varsity level for all four years of his high school career. After missing out on his season last year, the infielder made it his mission to make this year unforgettable, and after putting up more than 20 wins and going undefeated in conference play, the team has done just that.

“I think that the biggest difference this year is the energy in the dugout as well as the coaching staff. The team wants to compete every day,” Krewson said. “It really means a lot to me after seeing the program through its ups and downs. It is very exciting to see the support and energy this team gives each and every day.”