The West Union High School baseball team has once again taken on the underdog role.
After finishing second in MHSAA’s Division 2-1A to Union County rival Ingomar, the Eagles hope to fly under the radar and advance to the Class 1A state championship series as they did two seasons ago.
With that being said, they are some striking similarities between the ’09 and ’11 West Union squads, and it begins with Will Basil, Hunter McQuary and Taylor English.
“One reason that they remind us of that team is because we still got Will, Hunter and Taylor: key players now who played key roles then,” coach Ashley Russell said about how this year’s club (15-10) resembles the ’09 state runner-up team (18-14). “Like the 2009 team, they feel like they are going to win.
“They got a good attitude and a good work ethic. There’s a lot of similarities between this team and the 2009 team.”
The team’s renewal in the “Us vs. the World” mentality paid off through two rounds of the playoffs: In four games, the Eagles have outscored Tremont and Biggersville by a 44-12 margin.
In Saturday’s Game 2 against Biggersville, Basil drove in the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th to not only advance his Eagles to the next round against Greenville St. Joseph but to remain perfect on the hill, at 5-0, in 2011. He also happened to earn the win in Friday’s Game 1.
Basil, the ace of West Union’s staff in 2009, and English are a combined 9-1 during their senior campaigns. Basil will get the start in tonight’s opener with English to throw Game 2.
Although, no matter who toes the rubber for the Eagles, they all seem to receive plenty of run support. The Eagles’ offense on Saturday was also paced by Zak Jumper, who had a grand slam – his eighth home run of the year – and five RBIs.
So, is Russell surprised by his team’s recent offensive outburst?
“Not really,” said Russell, the 2009 Daily Journal Coach of the Year, whose squad scored 27 runs in two days against Biggersville. “We’ve hit the baseball really well this year. I was happy with the way we hit.
“I wasn’t shocked by what we did versus Biggersville.”
Collectively, the Eagles are hitting .316 as a team. They are led by McQuary’s .420 average, 11 homers and 42 RBIs. English is hitting a shade under McQuary’s clip, at .416.
“We’ve hit well most of the year, and we’ve really hit well down the stretch,” Russell said. “One of the reasons is because we played a tough schedule.”
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572 or firstname.lastname@example.org
John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal