WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two losses in the regular season and only one in the state playoffs has the New Hanover Wildcats baseball team in the state title series.
It’s a position they were in last season before losing in the final round, something that has pushed them internally for a year now.
“We try to push that away from us, we didn’t want to talk about it,” New Hanover Senior Kyle Smith said. “We just knew that we wanted to get back. It has helped motivate us throughout the playoffs. So, like Coach Foy says, just one game at a time and that’s how we’ve done it and it’s worked out for us.”
The one game at a time mentality has helped the team roll through the 3-A playoffs, outscoring opponents 35-6 over the seven game stretch.
But the key to success isn’t just found on the diamond, a secret sauce has led to this state title run.
“We tend to always, on Tuesday nights, hit up Buffalo Wild Wings,” New Hanover Junior Blake Walston said. “It’s buy-one-get-one free so we go there. After a Friday night game we’ll all stay somewhere, the whole baseball team. The team is fun, everything is fun, Coach Foy is a great coach and we just have fun here at New Hanover.”
A cohesive group is hard to beat, a task New Hanover faces when they play Crest.They are a group with 7 seniors in their starting lineup and only three season losses as well.
“I expect them to get after us at a pace that maybe we don’t see game-in and game-out in the regular season,” New Hanover Head Coach Richard Foy said. “They will want to win just as bad as we do. I totally expect close ball games.”
For Junior Pitcher Blake Walston, this is his third state championship game after winning it for the Cats on the gridiron.
He helped the football seniors leave with a ring and he wants to lead the baseball Cats to a title as well.
“Winning it in football was probably one of the greatest experiences I’ll ever be a part of,” Walston said. “I feel like I’ve gained a lot of leadership through it and I’m just pumped to be there on Friday.”
New Hanover and Crest will play in a best-of-three series beginning Friday at 5 p.m. at the Burlington Athletic Stadium.