Postseason bound

Millard West ready to take on Districts and State


Photo by Evan Vaslow

The Wildcats celebrate a big win earlier in the season against Millard North. This year the Cats finished with a regular season record of 24-5, and they will be a number one seed in their District tournament bracket, however there is always room for improvement. “I think we need to score more runs in the middle innings,” senior Sam Novotny said. “We usually put up runs in the first and last couple innings but I think it would really help if we could put a few more runs on the scoreboard for the middle innings and put more pressure on the other team.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

Millard West baseball’s regular season came to an unexpected close as their final two games, including the Don Kraft Invitational championship game and the final home game against Creighton Prep, were rained out this past Monday. The Wildcats will now begin to prepare for the District Tournament.

The Wildcats started the season with three dominating wins over Lincoln Southeast, Lincoln Northwest, and Papillion-La Vista. After this stretch of games, the team made its way to Kansas City to take on Mill Valley followed by a very talented Blue Valley team. A five run fourth inning along with solid pitching propelled the Wildcats to an 11-1 win over Mill Valley. Despite five strong innings from senior Jaxson Cahoy that featured eight strikeouts and only two earned runs, the Wildcats bats could never heat up against Blue Valley as Millard West was handed its first loss of the season by a score of 2-1.

Millard West returned home with a record of 4-1 and got right back into the action as they picked up two more wins, one against Burke and one against Lincoln Southeast. The Wildcats then traveled to Skutt to take on the SkyHawks. Despite being the underdog, the SkyHawks pitching kept the Wildcat bats in check as Millard West dropped its second game of the season, also by a score of 2-1.

The disappointing loss seemed to motivate the Cats as they won their next four games, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 35-6, bringing their record to 10-2. This brought Millard West into the Frank Ryan Invitational, a tournament the Wildcats hosted. The first two rounds were smooth sailing for the Wildcats, as hot bats and dominant pitching on the mound lead to blowout wins over Elkhorn and Millard North, pitting the Wildcats against Millard South for the championship. A three run first inning and four run second inning was all the Wildcats would need as they took down the Patriots to win the game and the tournament.

Riding high off the tournament win, the Wildcats brought a 13-2 record in their second matchup of the season against the Burke Bulldogs. Unlike the first meeting, the Bulldog offense came to play this time around as a five run fifth inning pushed them past the Wildcats and handed Millard West their third loss of the season. The Cats got their fourth loss of the season the very next day as they faced off against Millard South who got a redemption win over Millard West, dropping the Wildcats record to 13-4.

“I think we didn’t have a lot of energy throughout the team during those losses and it showed,” senior Sam Novotny said. “I think when we have good energy in the dugout and on the field I don’t think we can be beat.”

Then came the Metro Tournament, a chance for the Wildcats to move past their two game skid. The first round could not have gone better for Millard West as they beat Omaha North 26-2. They carried this momentum into the second round where they took down Westside in a 9-8 thriller. In the final round of the tournament, a three run sixth inning pushed Elkhorn South past the Wildcats, knocking them out of the tournament.

The early exit in the tournament motivated the Cats during the final stretch of regular season games. Millard West is currently on a nine game winning streak with notable wins over Elkhorn South, Bellevue West, Creighton Prep, Millard North and Gretna (twice). 

“I think we have had timely hitting in games and our pitching has been really good all around,” Novotny said. “When our starters can give us five plus innings and our relievers get the job done it makes us hard to beat.”

This gives the Wildcats a record of 24-5, as they prepare to take on the District tournament and ultimately capture the state title that eluded them last season.