Cougars baseball has all the tools at the right time
Throughout the 2012 campaign, the Shawnee Mission Northwest baseball team has shown spurts of impressive skills.
Whether it was the phenomenal weekend of pitching against tough competition at the River City Baseball Classic. Or when the bats have been hot at several points in the season, including Thursday’s 9-4 victory against Olathe South to grab a share of the Sunflower League’s first place with the Falcons.
But the what’s starting to round into shape for the Cougars is their defense.
One play summed that up on Thursday in the sixth inning. Senior centerfielder Michael Schilicht was shaded slightly to the left-field side knowing that many batters had been going the opposite way on SM Northwest pitcher Chase Rader.
With one out, Olathe South Brett Nickle nailed a pitch left up in the strike zone by Rader and the ball started to soar into the left-center gap. Schlicht darted over to the gap and had a full extension layout and snatched the ball before it hit the grass. While sliding on the grass, Schlicht re-gripped the ball in the top part of his glove just to make sure it was secure.
After realizing he secured the catch, the Cougar faithful cheered with jubilation at one of the top web gems of the year.
“He got a good jump,” SM Northwest coach Rich Kuzydym said. “He’s quick. He’s fast. He just made some really nice plays. We tell them all the time make the routine plays and the great plays are going to happen.”
Schlicht and SM Northwest (13-4) continue to build on each win as it comes along and it believes if everything comes together over the next week, being a contender for a state appearance is within reach. The Cougars also had some crucial timely hitting in the game. In the third inning junior Marcus McNeace and senior Austin Howard blasted two triples en route to extending their lead from three runs to seven.
In the fourth inning, senior Mack Preston and McNeace knocked back-to-back doubles to extend SM Northwest’s lead to 9-0. In the process Preston and Rader scored runs.
“We got a couple big hits in a row and the lower part of lineup stepped up tonight,” Rader said.
Rader also had another solid outing on the mound, going all seven innings again while giving up five hits and four runs and striking out seven.
The Cougars earned a 4-0 win at Olathe Northwest on Saturday, and defeated SM South, 3-1, on Monday.