Cascade’s coaching staff couldn’t be happier with the team’s performance during the final week of the regular season.
For a team that consistently starts four to five underclassmen, getting the guys dialed in and focused has been a big part of coach Roamn Hummel’s strategy to building more experience for what is sure to be a challenging post season run.
Against Durant and North Linn last week, Hummel was impressed with the team’s fortitude.
“Those we’re big games for us — to be just completely locked in and ready to go. I think going into districts, that’s what we have to do,” Hummel said. “We have one of the better teams, in my opinion, in the district and two of the better pitchers, and they are going to give us a chance to win.”
The Cougars hosted Durant July 9 and jumped right away offensively, putting up three in the first.
“I thought going into the game it was an opportunity for us to clinch our side of the conference, which is something we hadn’t done in a few years,” Hummel said. “So I felt like our guys were really focused going into it and the results showed.”
As Durant pitchers struggled throwing strikes, Hummel said Cougar batters didn’t chase, something they have done on occasion throughout the year.
Senior Reid Rausch led the team offensively, going 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a stolen base. Wil Roling, Riley Reed and Ted Weber all chipped in an RBI.
Sophomore Eli Green threw a five-hit, one-run game in five innings of work while striking out four and walking three.
“Going into districts, (Green) is someone we can rely on to go out and throw strikes and compete for us if we need him to,” Hummel said.
Haris Hoffman took command of the final two innings, giving up one run on two hits while striking out two in the Cougars 7-2 win.
After the Wahlert Catholic game was rained out Tuesday, a highly-competitive North Linn came to town on Wednesday.
“We needed some sort of signature win going into districts against a good team and good pitcher,” Hummel said. “It brings out the confidence in our guys — we can say ‘hey, we just faced one of the best pitchers in 2A and beat him, if we can do that, we can compete against anybody.”
Even with a top-shelf opposing pitcher, the Cougars fared better than the box score showed — they continued to chip away and put guys on base while battling when behind in the count.
“He’d get two strikes on guys and we’d foul off a ton of pitches,” Hummel said. “But finally we broke through in the sixth inning.”
In the sixth, Caden Reinke kicked off the drive with a single and promptly stole second. Roling and Hoffman both followed suit, scoring Reinke. Rausch then stepped to the plate, knocking a double that scored Roling and Hoffman to give the Cougars a 3-2 lead that they would hold.
“Going into the game against a highly-ranked team like North Linn, we wanted to make sure we gave ourselves a chance to win,” Hummel said. “The original plan was to have Reid throw a few innings and then Haris throw a few innings to get them ready for districts, but right away we could see that Reid had some good stuff so we let him go as long as he could.”
Hovering right around 90 pitches in the sixth, Rausch took a seat and handed Hoffman the reins.
Moving into the post season, Hummel said they will continue to focus on staying dialed in mentally.
“I think a lot of the games we lost this year were due to lapses in our focus,” he said. “We’d have big errors that would hurt us, we’d give guys a lot of bases and at the plate we wouldn’t compete as well as we could.”