Moments after losing the Division II championship game by one run, members of the 2012 Wapakoneta Redskins varsity baseball team had one message — “we will be back.”
Family, friends and fans gathered Sunday at Wapakoneta Redskins Field for the presentation of the season’s trophies and recognition of the accomplishments of the 21 players on the team.
Redskins varsity coach Jason Brandt shared some insights about his players with the fans shortly after the 3-2 loss to the Columbus St. Francis de Sales Stallions and explained the mindset of his players — and what he knows they are capable of doing.
“This is an accomplishment that you really need to sit back and think about because only one team can win it in each division and you guys were really close yesterday (Saturday),” Redskins varsity coach Jason Brandt told his players and fans as he pointed out four pieces of hardware earned this spring particularly the Division II state runner-up trophy. “I know after we talked, it was a heartfelt moment and we were all hurting a little bit, but we also know what kind of a feeling it was and we want to get back there.
“Each and every one of you said, ‘We will be back,’ ” the 10th year varsity coach said. “We know that it wasn’t an easy task this year, and we also know it won’t be an easy task next year, but I know deep down that every one of you will work extremely hard this fall, actually starting Wednesday night in ACME.”
Brandt also gave his analysis of how the team measured up to their team motto — “Win the Battle” — printed on the back of t-shirts worn by some of the members of the crowd.
“Our motto this year was ‘Win the Battle’ and I know some people were not quite sure what ‘Win the Battle’ means — but every game is a battle, every at-bat, every pitch, every defensive play,” Brandt said. “For you guys who were at the tournament this past weekend and saw our semi-final game against West Holmes (Knights) and our final game against De Sales, these guys battled. They laid it on the line for 14 innings, there was not one letdown.
“I know every single kid was emotionally drained after the game on Thursday because the bus ride was the quietest I’ve ever heard it because everyone was sleeping,” he said. “That was a definite battle and yesterday (Saturday), it was a battle. We didn’t have our best stuff at times but we hung around and we kept coming back and coming back and made it one heckuva Division II championship game and in my honest opinion we did win the battle — we won that battle.”
Brandt started his speech by thanking the school administration, staff and teachers, as well as KB (Kevin Bowersock), his coaches from Gabe Coil and Doug Whitmore to Curtis Helsinger and Matt Henderson, from Jay Liles and Ryan Loy to past coaches including Ryan Baightel.
He also thanked ACME and Junior ACME coaches Willie Sammetinger and Drew Golden for their work during the summer and former Redskin player and current Milwaukee Brewer minor leaguer Brian Garman for his work during the off-season. He thanked Wapakoneta Recreation Inc. and its coaches, the players’ parents and his wife, Sherri.
Redskin junior first baseman Brandon Miller addressed the approximately 300 people gathered on the field and bleachers around the field to share his thoughts and the players’ perspective regarding this past weekend and the entire season.
“When we start the season our goal is always to win the WBL (Western Buckeye League) and to go as far as we can in the tournament and making it as far as we did this year is a real accomplishment for us,” Miller said. “I would like to thank our fans because it is really amazing to be in that dugout and turning around and see that half of Huntington Park full of red and seeing that sea of red just got us more ready to play.
“We have a great community and we are all proud to live in Wapakoneta,” he said. “I also want to thank all these guys for the experience they gave me and what they gave the whole entire team and all the stories that we have.”
Redskin junior Josh Apple and centerfielder-pitcher Johnny Crawford also addressed the crowd and the team.
Crawford called the tournament run “a fun ride” and talked about how the team first started playing together when they were 8.
“I think about how far we have come and the places we have won together and it is a pretty good feeling — I am going to miss these guys so much after high school,” Crawford said. “We just need to live every moment like it is our last moment together. We will be coming back together next year for another big year hopefully and we just love the support from everyone and we thank you very much.”
At the end of Brandt’s speech, he revealed two possible mottos for next season — “Finish the Job” and “Leave No Doubt.”
He said the coaches and players know the expectations and the level of play this group and preceding groups have set and the legacy this junior class (now seniors) could leave here by finishing the job and winning a state title.
“Those are two things you guys can look at next year is ‘Finish the Job’ and ‘Leave No Doubt,’” Brandt said, “because I know, these guys (coaches) know and the community knows that you are a special group of guys and we can continue that next year.”