XENIA – Madeira came in to Friday’s Region 12 championship game with a .368 team batting average.
Blanchester, even in its tournament run, was nowhere close to that, with an average around .320. During the season, the Wildcats team batting average was more like.260.
Those hitting figures prove two things.
One, just how well BHS right-hander Jacksson Waialae pitched on Friday.
And two, just how far playing fundamental baseball and having belief in your teammates can take a team.
“This team believed,” Blanchester coach Aaron Lawson said. “Today we ran into a good (pitching) arm. We knew eventually it could happen.”
But a month ago, this team was looking to this week and beyond.
“Coach (Bradon) Pyle publicized a three-on-three (basketball) tournament for June 2. Topher (Farrow) told him he wouldn’t be there because we’d be in the state (tournament),” Lawson said.
The Division III state championship game is scheduled for June 2 in Columbus.
The Wildcats fell short of that goal but a 20-11 record and Region 12 runnersup is a strong season by any program’s standards.
“Us as coaches did not coach this team any different than we have the last four years,” said Lawson.
Lawson said the difference was the senior class bought into the team as a unit.
“In the past, there would be two or three cliques on the team,” said Lawson. “Now, everybody picks each other up. That’s the difference.”
And while the seniors were the leaders of the team on its regional runnerup finish, Lawson said the 2018 season was for all the BHS baseball alumni.
“There are so many players before this that deserved this run and just didn’t get it,” said Lawson.
SENIORS: The six seniors on the roster at season’s end were Justin Ballard, Brant Bandow, Preston Griffin, Jack Davidson, Chris Farrow and Eric Patton.
FUTURE BRIGHT: Lawson said junior Dustin Howard, two sophomores Mason Record and Jacksson Waialae and three freshmen Brody Rice, Cole Ficke and Trenton Czaika will look to continue the tradition next season.
“The future is going to be bright,” Lawson said.
DOUBLE PARKED: Sam Wirsing, the winning Madeira pitcher, was an extremely fast worker in the first few innings. Blanchester batters tried to step out the box as Wirsing started to pitch, hoping to disrupt his timing. That strategy, sound as it is, was not overly effective.
“He kept his composure very well,” Lawson said of Wirsing, who is going to Wright State University to pitch next season.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports