Wynford baseball the No. 1 team in Crawford County

HOLMES TOWNSHIP — Two years ago Wynford baseball was full of fresh faces.

After COVID wiped away the 2020 spring season, 2021 meant more first-time varsity players than ever. For the Royals, it was six freshmen and sophomores suiting up for the first time in high school, and a 15-13 season was the product.

But just having a season to adjust to the speed, power and mental aspect of varsity ball was all they needed, and this past spring it culminated in the program’s first league title since 2016 and a district semifinal appearance.

“We went in two years ago with a very young team, a lot of sophomores and freshmen, and had a decent season,” coach Tom Smith said. “Last year we had a really nice season, winning the league, but came up a little short against Edison, who went on to finish as state runner-up.

“Hopefully we take another step this year.”

Wynford's Cainen Allen rounds third and heads home.

Continuity with Smith helped lay the foundation

Prior to Smith taking over before the 2019 season, Wynford had some terrific coaches but only for a couple years at a time. Now entering his fifth year and fourth season in charge, Smith said he believes that has been one key to the team’s success.

“Any program if you can get the same coach in there for a while and learn their system, it puts a foundation behind it so you can continue to be successful year in and year out,” he said. “If you change systems a lot, it’s a learning curve every couple years. I think we had three or four two-year coaches before me, and I’ve been here four years, so hopefully we have a good base now.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt to have both starting pitchers back, either. Senior Sam Collene and junior Spencer Miller make up arguably the best one-two punch not only in Crawford County and the Northern 10 but in the greater area, stretching to the surrounding counties.

Wynford's Sam Collene delivers a pitch against Edison.

“Our pitchers are two totally different guys,” Smith said. “Sam can be that strikeout guy, throws a lot harder, mid-80s guy. We worked on getting his confidence up to not let errors bother him as much and he could be successful on the next pitch. That was the biggest thing between his sophomore and junior year — he was a little more mentally tough.

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