The Fayette Citizen-Sports Page

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wildcats wrapping up baseball season

The Whitewater Wildcats JV baseball team has had a very successful season, at least in the eyes of their head coach, Frank Dixon, a first-year head coach who has a team made up of first-year high school students.

The team record is 8-13 with a game to go. To most coaches this record would be disappointing, but not to Coach Dixon. The Wildcats JV team is made up of ninth-graders and they are playing teams that are predominantly made up of sophomores, and in some cases, even have a few juniors thrown in.

“The first part of the season this team was beat up pretty regularly,” said Dixon, “but they grew up somewhere along the way and started believing in themselves and each other.”

Coach Dixon, who coached alongside Fayette County High School varsity baseball coach Robert Townsend and is also a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant, also stated he asked the team to think of themselves as juniors and try to play even above that. “I used this season as a classroom, wanting the players to learn the game on a higher level, learn to play as a team and not as individuals.”

Coach Dixon said that the Wildcats practiced anywhere they could and usually had to practice in sessions of hitting, fielding and game savvy and not necessarily all on the same day.

“These kids did not get the repetitions in hitting and fielding they needed to compete early on,” said Dixon. He explained that the team received their best training on the field in a game. “By the time we played our first game, my pitchers had only pitched off a mound once, and even that was extremely limited.

“The success we had was primarily due to hard work on the part of the players and their natural skills,” he continued. “I knew only a couple of players before tryouts and had to cut down from a group of 61 initially. Mr. Stillions, Whitewater’s principal, allowed us to carry two teams. One team played a ninth-grade schedule and the other a JV schedule. I knew it would be tough but we needed to play good teams because we will play a region schedule next year.”

Though the team had less than an outstanding win-loss record, there are still some outstanding stats. John Sholar is hitting just over .500, Josh McDonald is hitting over .400 and Kevin Lewallen, Ryan Johnson and Jonah Jaurique are all batting above .300. Pitching standouts include Jonathan Ashley, Justin Carpenter, Justin Evans and many others. “The key to this team’s success is that they are a team. They believe in each other and they believe in their ability to get better,” stated Dixon. “I am very fortunate to have a chance to coach these boys. This team has tremendous potential and if they continue to work hard and learn, they will be successful.”

The Wildcats last game of the season is Friday at 5 p.m. at Chapel Hill.

The Whitewater High School freshman high school team finished the season with a record of 5-12. Winning pitchers were: Michael Suttles - two wins, Brent Payne, Ryan McDaniel, and Matt O’Connell. Other pitchers for the team are Nick Rosa, James Gladney, Braden Buckner, and Mathew Dziejowski. The other players on the team were infielders Nick Nieves, Tyler Brown, and Sean Terry, catchers James Gladney and Matt Callaway and outfielders Jonathan Black, Andy Skiles, and Kurdace Neal. The Wildcats recorded two victories over Northgate and wins over Fayette County, East Coweta, and Sandy Creek.

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