RALEIGH — A year ago, Millbrook sat in the middle of the Cap Eight standings, finishing the first half of the conference season at 4-3.
However, Austin James, the then-first-year head coach, saw the Wildcats’ potential.
“What we struggled with last year was hitting. No question about it,” James said. “Our pitching was solid last year, but we didn’t hit the ball as well as we should, so we literally spent all fall and winter working on our approach, working on getting better at the plate and we’ve just had guys buy into quality at-bats.”
“We’re not going to have guys that hit two and three doubles a game, but everybody has bought into ‘OK, let me at least make the pitcher work, let me make him throw six or seven pitches, let me do a job and advance the runner from second to third,’ and we’ve really improved in that aspect and it’s showing in the hits we’re getting in the games and the timely runs that we’re scoring.”
Millbrook (11-6, 7-0 Cap Eight) remained undefeated through the first half of Cap Eight play last week with an 11-0 win over Enloe.
Wildcats senior Marcello Betances went three-for-three at the plate with two doubles and four RBIs. Pitcher Chris Scott led Millbrook from the mound, striking out nine in the five-inning decision.
“We committed to the process and I think that’s what’s led us to this point,” Betances said. “We’re ready and we’re going to take it one game at a time and one at-bat at a time.”
The Wildcats have outscored opponents 94-40 while allowing fewer than three runs in 13 of 16 games this season.
“I think we probably have one of the best pitching staffs in the state and we probably don’t allow but one or two runs a game, so that definitely helps,” said Wildcats senior Brian Miller. “It makes hitting a lot easier, it takes pressure off of the defense, as well.”
Pitchers Gunner Deal, Alex Royalty and Scott all appear in The News & Observer’s Top 30 standings for strikeouts and overall pitching among area baseball teams.
“We’re just trying to continue positive momentum,” James said. “We’re trying to stay grounded and realize its a very long season so there’s nothing to get excited about in April, but we’re just trying to keep a good thing going.