The 2018 Whiteoak Wildcats advanced to the Ohio High School Athletic Association State Final Four, earned a No. 1 ranking in the state, had six players named All-Southeast District, five players selected as All-Ohio, two players stole at least 40 bases in the same season, and the Wildcats recorded 28 wins.
In addition to all of those accolades Whiteoak Head Coach Chris Veidt was selected at the 2018 Region 4 Coach of the Year by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association.
None of that matters in 2019 according to Veidt, “As a program we have put last year in the rear view mirror. We are focusing on today. Our practice, game, whatever today may hold. Being good teammates and giving the task at hand its due diligence.”
Veidt understands that the expectations from people in the community may be higher this season than they were in 2018 because of the teams’ appearance in the State Final Four.
“I’m sure in the public eye the expectations are greater,” Veidt said. “To us, internally, we understand that is because we’ve proven we are capable of winning a State Championship.”
The Wildcats will not be putting added pressure on themselves this season and Veidt plans to take the same approach.
“The only higher expectations we are holding is that of our Seniors. Being good social, academic and baseball role models,” Veidt told The Times-Gazette.
Even though Veidt is not placing higher expectations on the team this year there are players that he feels will have an opportunity to contribute more to the team in 2019.
“Ty Large, Zach Harless, Trey Bogart, Kyler Emery, Michael Igo and Jaycob Gross will all have opportunities to contribute at a much higher incidence than last season,” said Veidt.
The Wildcats return seven players to pitched in 2018 and Veidt expects pitching to shine for Whiteoak again this season, “Our biggest strength will be pitching depth. We have six kids with varsity experience and another three that could contribute at the varsity level.”
Key returners for the pitching rotation are Evan Brill and Chase Butler as they finished last season with nine and eight win respectively while Brill led the team with a .64 earned run average and recorded 62 strikeouts while only allowing 30 hits.
Veidt feels that he has a complete team but is unsure of the overall depth that the Wildcats will have this season and cited depth as the one weakness the team has in 2019.
“If we have a weakness its overall team depth,” said Veidt. “But with that being said, most of our kids are multiple position players that can weather any storm.”
According to Veidt the goals for the team have not changed in 2019, “Our goals are the same as most seasons. SHAC Championship, District Championship, 20 wins, and one pitch, one inning, one game at a time come tournament trail. The sky is the limit.”
Whiteoak always has fantastic support from the community and Veidt expects that to continue for the 2019 season.
“We have tremendous community support, but if anyone needs encouragement, you have the opportunity to come see a State caliber baseball program, play an exciting brand of baseball in one of the finest facilities in the state,” said Veidt. “What more could you ask for?”
Ryan Applegate is the Sports Editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.