Woodland Park Baseball Team Faces Final Stretch of League Games

Young Team Shows Signs of Improvement

Trevor Phipps


Despite looking quite promising when the season first started, the Woodland Park High School baseball team has confronted tricky curve balls thrown at them by Mother Nature and has faced many injuries.

With only two seniors playing on the varsity baseball team this year, the Panther team is young and constantly striving for improvements.


During their last scheduled home game on April 19, weather forecasts of possible snow and cold, windy conditions cancelled their second match at Panther Field against the Widefield Gladiators. The match has since been rescheduled to take place on May 14. It will serve as the team’s last regular season game of the year.


After picking up two key wins in March, the Panthers have struggled, losing nine games in a row. The Panthers’ overall record is currently a devastating 2-11. But on the upside, they have only played two league matches that count towards playoffs, and so have the opportunity to turn their season around.


Most recently, the Panthers fell to Evangel Christian Academy 7-3 on April 18. They then got beat 11-1 by Discovery Canyon on April 22.


Team Remains Focused on Improvements


The team’s head coach, Chris Becker, cites many qualities with his young team. “Strengths that we are seeing with this squad is the ability to have the next man-up mentality,” Becker said. “We have faced a few setbacks to start the season with injuries and unforeseen situations. This group of young players (14 on varsity and only 2 seniors) has come together and accepted any role they are asked to play which will help as they grow over the season into the next couple of seasons.”


He said that he is impressed with the younger players, who have stepped up and played, and that he is excited about the team’s future. “As a program we need to continue playing and gaining experience,” Becker explained. “The more games our young squad can play at the Varsity and JV levels, the better off we are going to be. Experience will help in the improvement of the skills we might be lacking.”


During the team’s first home game, the Panthers’ energy could be felt by the crowd, and they were able to make some awesome plays while at bat. The game just got away from them when they dropped an inning or two, which set the tone for the rest of the game.


The team, according to insiders and ardent fans, sports much potential, a quality they want to showcase when they are playing league matches for the rest of the season. The team’s coach said that they plan to rely on star Panther players in their remaining games, ranging from seniors to freshmen.


“Some of our returning players we will lean on this year will be Sophomores Link Bryden and Gavin Strouse who started every game last season as freshmen,” the coach said. “Our two seniors, Ian Newsham and Westin McCorkell, along with Juniors Cody Fries, Wyatt Stimits and Gabe Marquez will be leaders this season. Two Freshmen, Scout Newsom and Cody Becker, will step in this season and play large roles on and off the field and in future seasons.”


Key Team Statistics
Current sophomore pitcher Link Bryden has been leading the team at the plate with a 0.438 batting average, capped by 14 hits, 4 RBIs and one home run. Bryden also leads the team in pitching with a 4.85 ERA and a 1-2 record.


Sophomore infielder and pitcher Gavin Strouse has been the second best on the team in several statistical categories with a 0.344 batting average and a 0.462 on base percentage. Strouse leads the team in three categories: 14 runs, 10 RBIs and five doubles.


Senior second baseman and pitcher Ian Newsham has picked up three runs, three hits and two RBIS over his 13 times at bat. Senior outfielder Westin McCorkell has also had a decent season with a 0.222 batting average, four hits, two runs and three RBIs over 18 times at bat.


Junior outfielder Wyatt Stimits has been the team’s top star when it comes to making big plays in the outfield with a perfect fielding percentage this year. Junior first baseman Gabe Marquez sits second on the team with 13 runs, and he holds the title for the most stolen bases with nine.


The Panthers continue league play this week with two double headers scheduled. On Thursday, they play two games against the 3-5 Salida Spartans at home. They then hit the road Saturday to play two more against the tough 10-5 Lamar Thunder.


The coach also mentioned that one of their last big games will occur on May 11, when they challenge their rivals, the 10-4-1 Manitou Springs Mustangs, during a special senior night match.