Highlander Baseball’s Hot Start
The flowers are in bloom, the weather is warm, and the snow is all cleared up. Spring is in full swing, and Highlander Athletics is back in action after a brief hiatus following the conclusion of winter sports. Many spring sports teams have vaulted into hot starts and will look to continue the hot streaks up until the conclusion of their seasons. Baseball arguably has the hottest team on campus right now and will look to continue their hot start into April.
Highlander baseball is off to one of the most tantalizing starts the program has ever seen. The Highlanders currently sit at 11-6 (3-3 in conference play), with a series against Neumann University taking place this weekend, which will dramatically affect their CSAC playoff chances. The Highlanders dominated their non-conference schedule early on, winning 7 of their first 10 games before dropping 2 of their first 3 conference games to Marywood University. Following that disappointing series, the Highlanders captured 2 of 3 from CSAC foe, Gwynedd Mercy, evening up their conference record at 3-3. The Highlanders are one of the top teams in the conference offensively, batting .333 as a team and getting on base at a .424 clip, both tops in the conference. Leading the way individually for the Highlanders is Aaron Takacs, batting at a .434 clip as well as a .556 OBP (on base percentage). Takacs has been a catalyst for the Highlanders offensively, as well as defensively, commanding the infield as the SS for the Highlanders this season. Also doing damage offensively for the Highlanders is freshman Nathan Wilson. Wilson, standing at 5’6, is arguably the Highlanders most dangerous power hitter, leading the team in RBI’s with a grand total of 21 in the young season. Wilson has silenced critics that thought his high school success would not transfer to the next level, as he has proven them devoutly wrong, boasting a .424 batting average, while slugging at a .610 clip. Also contributing impressive numbers for the Highlanders are Jacob Allen and Brendan Keller. Allen has been impressive in the leadoff spot this season, topping the Highlanders in hits with 27 so far, as well as earning CSAC hitter of the week honors for the week of March 27-April 3. Keller on the other hand, gets on base in a different manner, utilizing slap hits and drag bunting to get on base at will. Keller also sports an equally impressing batting average of .382, good for 4th on the team.
While offensive numbers have been good for Cairn, another bright spot has been the young arms in the rotation. Sam Dralle, Daniel Morales, and newcomer Kam Bradshaw have all stamped their spots down in what has turned out to be quite an impressive starting rotation for Head Coach Phill Shallenberger. Dralle leads the team with 34 strikeouts, double the amount that any other Cairn pitcher has been able to accumulate this season. The return of Daniel Morales has paid dividends for the Highlanders, as his lefty arm has been keeping hitters off balance since his return. Morales holds an impressive ERA of 3.32, and leads the staff with 4 pickoffs on the young season. Arguably the most surprising aspect of this young season for Highlander Baseball is the arrival of Kam Bradshaw to the scene. Bradshaw has been a focal point in the Highlanders rotation, notching 3 wins along with a 3.16 ERA over 5 starts for the freshman. Bradshaw, who has no high school baseball experience, has been a diamond in the rough for the Highlanders this season with his lively fastball, and gritty demeanor, anchoring the Highlanders rotation in the young season.
The Highlanders find themselves in prime position to capture a CSAC playoff spot, and with upcoming matchups against potential playoff teams Neumann, Immaculata, and Cabrini, Highlander fans will get to find out what this team is made of in the upcoming weeks.