Early-season struggles can pay dividends for . The baseball team currently sits at 14-3 (5-2, Concorde District) on the season and is off to its best start under sixth-year head coach Morgan Spencer.
As the Wildcats prepare for Friday’s Concorde District showdown against Westfield (11-4, 5-2 Concorde District), Spencer believes that his battle-tested team's will help them avenge their 9-2 loss to earlier this season.
The Wildcats navigated a brutal five-game schedule in the Orlando tournament and finished 4-1 against teams from across the country. More impressive, however, is the fashion in which Centreville won those games. The Wildcats overcame a five-run deficit against Chicago’s Illiana Christian to win 7-6, and a two-run deficit against Flagler Palm Coast (Fla.) to win 3-1.
“Those were games early in the season that gave our guys a lot of confidence in their ability to win close games,” Spencer said. “With the exception of one game this season, we’ve done an excellent job of making big plays and doing the little things right in situations late in games.”
Centreville’s pitching staff has been vital to the team’s success. Wildcat hurlers Mitch Mahoney (Sr.), Mitch Ferrick (Sr.) and Carson Bach (Jr.) have been dominant from the mound throughout the season and have a combined ERA of just 1.96.
Mahoney is 6-0 with a 1.56 ERA and Ferrick is 2-0, with four saves and an ERA of 1.09. Bach, Centreville’s ace, is 3-3 on the season.
“Carson’s had a very good year. His record is 3-3, but he pitches against the best competition and he’s done very well. He’s as good as they come,” Spencer said of his ace. “When you’re doing that kind of stuff with the pitching staff, it definitely helps out.”
With a pitching staff as dominant as Centreville’s, a few runs per game from the offense is usually enough to ensure a victory. But Wildcat batters have been equally as impressive. Senior outfielder, Chris Simpson, leads the team in RBI with 16, boasts a .335 batting average and has arguably been the team's most consistent hitter. Simpson transferred from Westfield after his freshman season and would love nothing more to end the regular season with a win against his former team.
“He’s come out of the gates this year and has been on fire. The Westfield game means a ton to him against the guys he used to play and go to school with,” said Spencer. “He hasn’t talked about it, but he’s one of those kids who is just a gamer. He doesn’t talk a lot; he just goes out and plays.”
Senior catcher, Bobby San Martin (.361 average, 11 RBI) and senior shortstop, Kevin Lachance (.325 average, 12 RBI) have been a consistent source of power for Centreville’s offense. Senior catcher/first baseman, Ryan Henson leads the team in batting average at .381.
“We’ve got a group of seniors that have played together since little league. We just really have solid team chemistry and I think that has been huge for us,” said Spencer of his veteran leaders. “These guys go to bat for each other, they play for each other and they want to win for each other. That attitude is something special.”
Centreville’s last victory over Westfield was on April 30, 2010, so a win over the Bulldogs on Friday would mean a lot to the Wildcat players and coaches. For Spencer, while a Westfield win would be welcomed, the game’s outcome means little if his team doesn’t produce in the upcoming Concorde District tournament.
“It’s nice to be 14-3, but they don’t crown anybody a champion for having the best record in the regular season. We could be undefeated in the regular season, lose the first game of the district tournament and not have anything to show for it,” Spencer said.
“You need to be playing your best ball at the end of the year," he continued. "Hopefully we’re able to do that and do something special. We have to finish games and win every pitch.”