By Chris Chaney
A young Williamsburg team that toiled in the middle of the Southern Buckeye Conference’s National Division last season is a year older and not all that different in terms of makeup, returning 11 of 13 from the 2013 roster.
“Right now, we’re 4-2 in league and 8-7 overall,” head coach Shannon Smith said. “We’re doing well and we’re competing.”
After getting off to a slow start that saw the Wildcats lose six of their first nine games, Williamsburg has been on a nice run of late, winning five of their last six, placing themselves firmly back in the conversation as a league title contender.
Currently, Williamsburg finds themselves in solo third place, a half-game behind both Batavia and Blanchester and two games ahead of fourth-place Clermont Northeastern.
Winnable games against Felicity-Franklin and Georgetown were scheduled for earlier this week, weather permitting, but final scores were unavailable at the time this edition went to print. The next two games on the schedule — Friday, May 2 at Batavia and Monday, May 5 versus Blanchester — will likely hold the key to the title in the National Division.
“We have Batavia and Blan coming up, but we have to take care of Felicity and Georgetown first,” Smith said. “I feel really good about where we’re at coming to the end of the season. As long as we play our game, I think we’ll be perfectly fine.”
Playing their game is exactly what Burg has been doing over the past two weeks to get them in the hunt for a championship.
Two seniors have been the catalysts for the Wildcats’ turn around, Lane Edmisten and Isaiah Bradford. The pair of fourth-year players hold down the right side of Williamsburg’s infield with Edmisten playing shortstop and Bradford manning the hot corner at third.
Edmisten is batting .368 with 14 runs scored and seven knocked in while Bradford is hitting just under .300, but getting on base at nearly a 40 percent clip. Sophomore Zack Ward has been the Wildcats’ most potent offensive threat hitting .429, knocking in 18 runs and getting on base 56.9 percent of the time.
The sophomore pitcher/catcher is leading the team in all three categories.
Sophomore Austin Whisman and junior Austin Horn are also doing a good job getting on base and knocking in runs, a big reason why the Wildcats have been shut out only once all season.
On the mound, Coach Smith said his pitching staff has been stellar as well. Ward leads the team in wins with three, but Williamsburg’s rotation by committee includes Horn, Roger Helton and Andrew Smith.
The best earned run average on the team belongs to junior Jared Spurlock.
“Every one has done exactly what we’ve asked them to do,” Smith said. “Jared Spurlock has been lights out. He’s up there in strikeouts (16) even though he only throws one or two innings a game, maybe.”
In 11.0 innings pitched, Spurlock has given up zero earned runs and boasts a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of just 0.91. It’s hard for opposing teams to score on Spurlock when they can’t get anyone on base.
The Wildcats hope to continue their stretch of good play throughout the next two weeks, the last of the regular season and into the sectional tournament, which begins the week of May 11. Burg’s first game could be as early as Monday, May 12, but more than likely will fall on Wednesday, May 14.
The full brackets will be announced this Sunday, May 4 at the tournament draw meeting and will be available to view on the Southwest Ohio District Board’s website at swdab.org.