A fresh start

Millard West baseball preps for new season


Photo by Tenley Wright

Senior Sam Novotny battles against Gretna in the Metro tournament last season. This off season Novotny worked on blocking out the noise and focusing while on the mound. “One of my biggest focuses this off season has been blocking out everything on the mound and really being able to zone in and focus for the whole time I’m on the mound.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

With a new baseball season quickly approaching, the Millard West baseball team will be looking for a measure of revenge this year.

Last season did not end the way the Wildcats hoped. After beating Lincoln East in the State semifinals, all the Wildcats had to do was beat Millard South once before they lost twice. However, that did not happen; the Patriots beat the Wildcats twice in a row and stole the State Championship. Millard West ended with a record of 28-13 but fell short of the title.

This year, Millard West will be without 10 of their players from last year’s team, notably on the offensive side of the ball. The Wildcats lost many key offensive components, including their leader in batting average, Kyan Lodice.

Millard West will look to now seniors Maddux Fleck, Drew Borner, and Avery Moore to repeat their strong season from last year. Fleck appeared in all but one of the games last season and totaled 141 plate appearances and had a batting average of .333. Fleck had 39 hits throughout the year, with seven doubles, one triple and 19 runs batted in (RBIs). Borner also had a batting average of .333 with 36 hits, five doubles, one triple, one home run and 26 RBIs. Moore had a .297 batting average last season with 30 hits, three doubles, five triples, three home runs and drove in 24 runs. The Wildcats will also hope for senior Rice Whiatker and junior Caleb Lanphear to step up offensively to replace lost pieces.

Millard West will also be without some key contributors on the mound. The Wildcats will be missing Carter Betts, Corbin Hawkins and Kael Dumont among others. This year, Millard West will look to last year’s ace, senior Jaxson Cahoy, to lead the team on the mound. Last season Cahoy had a 5-1 record through nine pitching appearances with a 1.42 earned run average (ERA). He threw a total of 44.1 innings while only giving up nine earned runs all year and punching out 73.

The Wildcats also hope for another strong season out of seniors Sam Novotny and Mason Koch. Last season, Novotny threw a team high 47.1 innings with 55 strikeouts and a 2.07 ERA. Koch threw a total of 22.1 innings throughout his 11 appearances. Koch had an ERA of 2.95 with 39 punchouts on the season.

“I think being able to go deep into games and save our bullpen for later games helped us out a lot last year,” Novotny said. “That is one thing me and the rest of the pitching staff want to do again this year.”

Millard West will also look for senior Dylan Driessen and junior Drew Dermer to improve off last season and play a supporting cast role to the Wildcat’s big three. Head coach Steven Frey will also have some new pieces to play this season as newcomers to the team, senior Tyler Spreitzer and freshman Brady Ferguson, will be in the bullpen.

“A big part of the work I did this off-season was on adding velocity to my fastball,” Driessen said. “This off-season I was introduced to different technologies that were able to help me improve my pitch design so that was also a big focus this off-season.”

This season Millard West has a stout schedule filled with many top competitors. The Wildcats will open the season at home on March 19, where they will take on state qualifier Lincoln Southwest at 12 p.m. When the two faced off last season, the Wildcats won a high-scoring affair by a score of 11-7. Directly following this game, at 3 p.m., the Wildcats will take on Lincoln Northeast, a team which Millard West beat twice last year. Throughout the season the Wildcats will be tested as they take on all but three of the class A state tournament qualifiers from last year. Millard West’s most meaningful game of the season will take place on April 12 where they will battle against a Millard South team they lost the title to last year.

  “I think every year we are very motivated to win a state title,” Novotny said. “With that being said I think we all are a little pissed off and are coming for blood this year.”

Despite a difficult schedule, this Wildcat team that is filled with talent will battle throughout the season and hope to capture the title that eluded them last year.