Baseball professionally plays out season
Wilbraham & Monson Academy Baseball coach John Boozang said he expected the 2012 team to win more games than it did.
However, losing the team's top pitcher, dropping a handful of games in the last inning and a group of young Titans playing key positions led to a 3-12 season for WMA.
To the credit, though, of the coaches and players, the Titans never lost their focus and professionally played out the season, winning their finale against Canterbury.
“The ball seemed to find a way to get through the infield sometimes,” Coach Boozang said. “I think we were snake bit a little.
“But I never thought, and I don't think the guys ever thought, we weren't in a game or we weren't capable of winning a game, save maybe Salisbury School. Without question the guys enjoyed playing and I enjoyed coaching them. There was never a time during the season I was thinking 'I can't wait for this season to end'. The guys didn't feel that way either. The guys liked playing baseball and being with one another.”
Ben Marcus '12 (photo, top right), who earned the team's MVP Award, agreed, saying, “The coaches did a great job keeping us motivated. Even though our record was not what we wanted it to be, they taught us great lessons throughout the year that the kids can build on for the future.”
One of those lessons was Coach Boozang's approach throughout the season.
“I told the guys from day one that I don't measure success in wins and losses, and that's not self-serving: it's true,” Coach Boozang said. “I measure success in if we're getting better at drills every day, if we get better as a team every day, if guys enjoy baseball by the end of the season, and if the guys are having fun along the way. In those four areas, we were successful.
The 2012 season started well, with WMA making a spring trip to Orlando.
“It's good to get down there and start the season early,” Ben said. “We played three scrimmages in Florida. We lost them all but it helps getting those games in. We practiced two or three times a day. I've done it the past two years and it was a great experience. The fields were top-notch and the whole experience was fun. I'm thankful we got to do that.”
The Titans dropped their opener in the last inning but bounced back in their next game when Ben no-hit the Millbrook School. With Ben and Ryan Early at the top of the rotation, WMA appeared to have a competitive team.
Ryan, however, was lost for the season by mid-April with an arm injury, and other players were struck with injuries that sidelined them at points during the season as well. The setbacks, though, did open the door for younger players to step into starting roles, and that may pay dividends in the long run.
“I told the guys my freshman season in college we lost 30 games, in part because we started 7-8 freshmen,” Coach Boozang said. “But our senior year we had so much more playing time than our competitors and we won 30 games. I'm hoping that happens with this group.”
It may have already started, with WMA rallying to beat Canterbury in the last game of the season behind a great relief performace by Scott Bicknell '14 (photo, bottom).
“It was satisfying on a number of levels, not only for revenge from the first game but for being a great way to end the year. We battled back from two deficits.
“I'm excited for the future.”