You know a team has bought into a coach’s message when they understand the process of getting to your ultimate goal is a combination of confidence that you can do it and the willingness to put in the work to see those dreams come true.
As the 2017 season gets into full swing the Wilson Lakemen are ready to prove that they have the ability to take that next step.
Going 8-6 overall last spring, the Lakemen made it all the way to the Section VI Class B-2 championship game where they fell to Fredonia.
Returning a strong cast of contributors from that team has the Lakemen believing that this season will be a good one as well.
“The year before we really didn’t have much success,” Lakemen coach Mark Kurtz said. “We went from winning just a couple of games (in 2015) to winning a whole bunch.”
Kurtz said that after seeing a dramatic increase in the win total his veteran players have entered the new season with higher expectations. Winning is no longer a nice surprise. It’s the objective every time they step on the diamond.
“That’s kind of the message that they want me to send to them,” said Kurtz. “When they’re not up for a practice or something (I say) if you wanna reach your goals you have to put the hard work in. It’s not just gonna happen.”
Leading the way for the Lakemen are captains John Bender (SS/P), Connor Seeley (1B) and Jonah Miller (CF). Miller is the quiet, lead by example type. Where as Bender and Seeley are the vocal leaders who speak their minds and say what needs to be said for the greater good of the team.
“They’re captains on other teams so they know. They know that’s part of their job,” Kurtz said.
All three can back up their words with action, as Bender proved when he threw a one-hitter in Lakemen’s 10-0 win over Newfane. Going the distance, Bender struck out 14 and issued just one walk.
Bender also bats clean up with Tanner Feeley in front of him in the third slot and Jackson Rotella in the fifth spot in the order.
The top of the order features Miller leading off followed by infielder Justin Daul, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury he suffered during the football season.
Feeley,a junior who plays infield and outfield, returned to Wilson after spending his sophomore year at Newfane. He is batting 7-for-8 in the Lakemen’s first two games.
Senior catcher Nate Fox, who also pitches, is another key returning starter for the Lakemen.
“We have a great, great core group of leaders on our team. Which you don’t always find,” Kurtz said.
“They’re good athletes. They play three sports. They wanna win. The don’t take a loss too well. They’re hungry to win. They know we’ve got a good chance.”
Wilson also scored an 8-3 win over Tonawanda in non-league action.