Academics Plus Coach John Harrison was hoping for a better outcome to the end of the season. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
In a regular-season contest last Tuesday, the Falcons lost 12-2 to Guy-Perkins then later in the week ended their season with a 14-0 loss to Mount Vernon-Enola in the district tournament. Harrison thought the winless Falcons would perform better against Guy-Perkins.
“I thought Will Westenburger pitched a great game and threw strikes,” Harrison said. “I talked to him before the game about throwing the ball up there and let them put it in play and let our defense play behind him. We couldn’t make a play.”
Harrison said Academics Plus recorded its two runs in the top of the first frame. The Falcons could have scored more but base running errors stopped the output. Errors led to the majority of the Thunderbirds’ runs. Harrison said Mount Vernon-Enola had a good pitcher and was solid offensively. Paul Sheesley started on the mound for the Falcons but lost control after four batters and was replaced by Westenburger. Errors were a factor in the Mount Vernon-Enola contest, too.
“That’s been our story all year,” Harrison said. “We knew going in (into the season) our kids were inexperienced, and we didn’t expect to win state.”
Although the Falcons didn’t win a game, Harrison said they maintained a good attitude. He added when a team is getting beat bad the tendency is to quit, but he never heard any of that.
“They had fun and understood it was a process,” Harrison said. “They were getting better and understanding the rules.”
Except for Sheesley, Harrison returns everyone next year. He noted the improvement and consistency of Westenburger on the mound as he improved at throwing strikes and was able to change his pitch location. Harrison also complimented the hitting of first baseman Ian Gates.
Because Academics Plus was comprised of players with little or no baseball experience, Harrison said they Falcons can only improve. Six years ago, the Falcon basketball team was in the same situation as the three-year baseball program and now it is beating opponents and/or opponents have to play their best to defeat them. Harrison sees the baseball program heading in that direction.
“We are flirting with playing extended high school baseball, but I need more commitment from a few people,” he said. “We got better at the end. We were making some plays and not making as many errors and our pitching was better. We also found some positions for some of the kids. This season was a win for me in that the kids worked hard with the experience not there.”