From the crack of the bat to the zip of a fastball crossing the plate, the Cedar Park Christian baseball squad is marking its achievements together. From seniors to freshmen and everyone in between, they preach team unity. Everyone’s equally pivotal to the Eagles’ success each day, said head coach Matt Stevens.
“It’s been a lot of fun. These guys, they are great guys,” said Stevens, whose team snagged the 1A North Sound Conference title with a 6-5 victory over South Whidbey on April 26 at Marymoor Park. The teams were knotted at the top of the standings before the game and Cedar Park now stands tallest with a 13-2 record.
The Eagles, who are 17-3 overall, won 16 consecutive games at one point before dropping a pair to South Whidbey leading up to the championship contest. The teams will be the 1-2 seeds at bi-districts this weekend in Bellingham.
Experience is key for Cedar Park, who graduated just three seniors last year and returned seven of its nine starters.
“They’ve had a lot of success. These seniors have won districts three times, they’ve seen how it’s done and they’ve carried on the winning mentality,” said Stevens, whose team took fourth at state last year and finished second at state the year before.
Cedar Park’s bats have unleashed tons of power, Stevens said. At press time, the Eagles’ team batting average was .344, they’ve blasted 11 home runs and their fleet feet have crossed home plate 190 times. On the pitching front, their team earned-run average is 1.40 with 136 strikeouts and just 34 walks and 38 runs allowed.
After 19 games, sophomore catcher Cole Fazio led the team with a .480 batting average with three homers and 28 RBIs, followed by senior Ben Hann at .438 and junior infielder Jensen Lavering at .397 with four homers and 21 RBIs. Junior Jack Erdman tallied three homers and freshman Isaiah Halim knocked one out of the park.
Pitching-wise, senior Brandon McClean was 5-1 with a .60 ERA, Hann was 3-0 with a 1.2 ERA and junior London Conard was 3-1 with a 1.5 ERA.
Stevens said the team possesses discipline with its bats and the pitching and defense is solid.
Senior Michael Doyle — who plays shortstop, third base and center field — said that crucial aspects of the Eagles’ success are “just buying in and working hard and putting (in) the extra hours, every practice, every opportunity you have to get better and work harder.”
Doyle will continue his baseball career at Whitman College in Walla Walla next season and noted that he’s got mental toughness and positivity in his arsenal from playing at Cedar Park.
Manning the outfield positions is senior Jacob Catey, who said the team needs to keep grinding each day to advance to state and make an impact at that grand tournament.
“I like that we’ve had good seniors in the past and a good team all my four years, so it’s been nice learning from past guys and filling their shoes, growing up,” said Catey, who will attend Biola University in La Mirada, California, in the fall.
McClean, who also plays shortstop, feels good about his pitching output the last two years, especially when he unleashes his fastball and change up.
“Our defense is great, (I’m) confident they’ll make every play, so I’m definitely not afraid to pitch to contact,” said McClean, who is headed to Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California.
When he’s not on the mound, Hann occupies first base and the outfield.
“Wherever I can be to help the team and get playing time, I’ll do whatever,” said the California Baptist University (Riverside)-bound Hann.
Hann also speaks highly of the program’s past seniors for paving the way for this year’s veteran guys. Hann likes how “they’ve always worked hard and had a culture of doing things the right way, playing baseball the right way, glorifying God the right way,” he said.
Coach Stevens said it’s not all about baseball on the field as the players incorporate their faith into everything they do.
“Our message is our internal belief in our faith in God actually pushes us to do anything to the best of our ability,” he said.