Mt. Vernon Register-News

June 5, 2014

Webber's Eleven

The Trojans baseball team is small on number but big on quality

By Paul Hines
Associated Press

BLUFORD —

Eleven players comprise the entire Webber baseball program.

It might not sound like many, but the Trojans have proven that numbers don't mean much this season. What matters is performance on the field.

We've got 11, but our 11 are more dedicated and tough physically and mentally than a lot of teams with 16, 17 or 18 (players),” Webber coach Sam Root said. “And I firmly believe that.”

Webber is on a postseason roll. The Trojans won their second straight regional title about two weeks ago. The team has added sectional and super sectional wins to its resume since then. Today, the Trojans ballclub takes the field at Peoria's Dozer Park with a 1A state crown as the primary goal.

I guess the past couple of days I've thought it doesn't really matter how big you are,” Webber's Logan Ganieany said. “(It's) who comes together at the right time and who gets hot at the right time and then you can do anything.”

Suiting up 11 players each game leaves little room for error or flexibility. Nine players are needed to start each baseball game. When the Trojans are in the field there are more coaches – three – than reserves – two – in the dugout.

Webber's 11 have found a way to stay on the field all season. Ten of the players have appeared in 30 or more games this season. Webber has played 32 times this spring.

I think it's crazy that we've gone throughout this whole season with hardly any injuries,” Webber's Chris Bush said.

Extra activities and keeping their grades above the eligibility requirements haven't been a big problem either.

We don't have to worry about it now because we're out of school, but even throughout school we had no ineligibilities,” Bush added. “We had a couple people miss because of trips or whatever, but that's it. That's a blessing to have 11 people and none of them miss.”

Gage Raudenbush, Lane Moser, Mark Knepler, Chris Bush, Michael Gartin and Jaxon Helm have each played in all 32 of the team's games. At times, players have had to simply tough out a nagging discomfort.

We've just been tough,” Webber's Zane Austin said. “If anyone got a nick or a bruise, they just play through it. (They) just want to keep fighting, can't let it drag them down.”

Webber faces New Athens in the 1A state semifinal at 10 a.m. today in Peoria.

Austin's thoughts around game time won't drift toward the number of players on his team. His focus will be specific and simple

We're here. Let's play baseball,” Austin said.