After a shaky start to the season, the Winman baseball team would catch fire down the stretch and beat the odds, advancing to the state semifinals where they lost a 5-4 decision to North Cumberland.
The Warriors had a new-look team this year, relying on relatively unproven players. However, they would continue to improve in each game, and ended up winning eight of their final nine regular season contests, as well as two playoff games.
Winman entered the postseason as the 13 seed, and would get a strong pitching performance from Brayden Adler-Maranhao in the first round, leading the Warriors to a 5-3 win over No. 4 Lincoln. They would continue to cruise by beating No. 5 Cole, 5-2, in the quarters.
Winman would then square off against top-seeded North Cumberland, and hold a 2-run lead in the later innings. North Cumberland would surge down the stretch and tack on three more runs to take the 5-4 lead and pick up the win.
Winman coach Ed Colvin was proud of his team’s improvement throughout the season, and felt that the club’s pitching stepped up big in the playoffs.
“We lost some good players from last year, then we started out 1-3, and then we just stopped losing. We finished at 9-4 and still were the 13 seed. We got some great pitching from Brayden, he was great all year and was unbelievable (in the playoffs). Brady Maccarone pitched against North Cumberland and also pitched very well,” said Colvin.
Strong pitching and improved defense also helped the Warriors climb out of the 1-3 hole that they fell in early in the season.
“We stepped up defensively, and we didn’t want to expend our pitchers. Once the season got going, we were able to expend our pitchers a little bit more. We weren’t a big hitting team but we were able to manufacture runs. It all came together in the middle of the season,” said Colvin. “They worked hard, were very coachable. They did everything we asked of them, it was a great season.”
The Warriors will once again lose some of their top players to high school this spring, but Colvin hopes that this season’s playoff run will pay dividends for the returning players looking to fill the void.
“We lose a lot. We lose our top two pitchers, we lose Owen Leahy, Dom Calise, in middle school, your eighth graders are your best players so we are losing quite a bit. But we have some really good seventh graders that will step up,” said Colvin. “It was a great experience (for the returning players), they got to play at McCarthy with a big crowd, a very intense atmosphere. All three of the playoff games were intense so it was a great experience for the kids to have.”