Brack, Pritch­ett named top player and head coach

Record Observer - - Sports -

With new rules fur­ther lim­it­ing pitch­ers, any­one fol­low­ing the 2017 Mid-Shore base­ball sea­son knew it would be, as Eas­ton High head coach Al­bert Pritch­ett said in March, “a dif­fer­ent jour­ney.”

The one Pritch­ett and his War­riors took the pre­vi­ous year had cer­tainly been a bumpy one.

Suffering through their sixth los­ing sea­son since 2008, the War­riors won two, but lost nine games, in­clud­ing a one-run, ex­tra-in­ning play­off loss at Queen Anne’s. Eas­ton hit just .215 for the year.

A few months after the sea­son ended, the War­riors’ top pitcher from 2016, team cap­tain Jack Wheat­ley, was di­ag­nosed with leukemia while at­tend­ing his first year at the United States Coast Guard Academy.

But Pritch­ett, him­self an Eas­ton grad­u­ate, kept the faith, as did Wheat­ley, his fam­ily, team­mates, and the com­mu­nity, Wheat­ley re­ceiv­ing sup­port from all over the countr y.

Wheat­ley re­mained a War­rior dur­ing treat­ment, and has the up­per hand in his bat­tle; he was “all clear on [his] fi­nal biopsy” in May, ac­cord­ing to his fa­ther, Richie.

Mean­while, Jack’s old squad had a brighter 2017, too, and won sev­eral more games than in its pre­vi­ous cam­paign. With­out a se­nior on the team, “we were def­i­nitely very young,” Pritch­ett said. “It feels like we’ve been young for a while now, if that makes any sense.”

Los­ing four starters — in­fielder and pitcher Dy­lan Wa­ters, catcher Bren­nan Cas­sell, cen­ter fielder Ed­die Burgstahler, and Wheat­ley, a pitcher/in­fielder — Pritch­ett “knew what we were go­ing to try to do; we were just hop­ing it would come to­gether.”

Ju­nior right-han­der Mason Led­ford threw seven com­plete games, and class­mate Ryan Farr notched at least one hit in ev­ery game, a streak he be­gan in May, 2016 — made a dif­fer­ence. Led­ford, and the pitch­ing of ju­niors Kee­gan Bentz and sopho­more Bran­don Latham, helped cre­ate a ris­ing tide, while Eas­ton hit more than 60 points bet­ter this spring.

“When pitch­ers are throw­ing strikes, the de­fense feels a lit­tle less stress, and bat­ters can be a lit­tle looser, too,” Pritch­ett said. “I think it was con­fi­dence — I think hit­ting is all about com­fort and con­fi­dence. We pri­or­i­tized the hit­ting; we knew it was a place where we would im­prove... the hit­ting we knew, we thought it would come with age — con­tact, get­ting the bat to the ball. We made bet­ter con­tact, and went from last year, where we had, I be­lieve, 10 ex­tra­base hits to 30-some; the kids fo­cused on it, the coach­ing staff fo­cused on it.”

What’s more, the War­riors went 2-2 in con­tests de­cided by one run.

De­feat­ing even­tual Class 1A state cham­pion St. Michaels in

All-Mid-Shore Coach of the Year Kim Betts, far left, cel­e­brates Queen Anne’s vic­tory in the Bay­side Con­fer­ence ti­tle with, from left, Emma Feaga, All-Mid-Shore Co-Player of the Year Kayla Blann, and Becca Clay.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.