March 27 - Rob Hahne couldn’t have asked for a better start this spring.
Westfield’s sixth-year coach saw his No. 8 Bulldogs improve to 4-0 after posting their fourth consecutive shutout in a 15-0 win over visiting Washington-Lee last night, serving notice that they will be very much in contention for a first Concorde District championship since 2010.
“We are very pleased with how our pitching and defense has performed,” Hahne said. “Our focus has been preparing for a grueling [district] schedule that has high-end teams.”
Westfield has shown it can roll out much more than just Joe Clancy and Danny Leo, its two senior right-handers who give Hahne one of the area’s best 1-2 combinations on the mound. The Bulldogs have had seven pitchers get work during its current 22-inning scoreless streak, combining for 35 strikeouts while allowing just five hits over that stretch.
The staff has had plenty of support behind it with a defense that has yet to commit an error, and two sophomores - outfielder Nick Lottchea and corner infielder Kevin Mackmin - are pacing a lineup that has produced 44 runs and shortened three games to five innings via the 10-run mercy rule. Lottchea is 4-for-7 with four walks, eight runs, six RBI and four steals, while Mackmin has gone 6-for-11 with three doubles and seven RBI.
“One of our offensive focal-points this year is to forget about batting averages,” Hahne said. “[Hitting instructor] Steve Springer was in town and talked to our team about how batting average is a trap. We are focused on hitting balls hard and putting in competitive at-bats.”
The Bulldogs open their district schedule on Friday against Oakton.
Saunders, Shepard Spearhead Yellow Jackets’ Fast Start
Osbourn Park has won three straight and four of five to begin its season, and a major reason for the early success starts with the top two batters in the Yellow Jackets’ lineup.
Leadoff man Shane Saunders, who hit .484 with 14 steals and earned All-Region 6D outfield honors as a sophomore last spring, is hitting .529 (9-for-17) with three walks, six runs and seven steals. And Shepard, a freshman catcher who committed last month to play at Indiana, has been scorching to start his high school career while hitting .556 (10-for-18) with six runs, four extra-base hits and seven RBI.
Osbourn Park has applied constant pressure on opposing batteries, swiping 39 bags through four games, including 19 in a 14-2 win over Hayfield on Friday. The Yellow Jackets open their Cedar Run District schedule at home tomorrow against Stonewall Jackson.
Hornets, Seahawks Both Unbeaten Entering Friday’s Rivalry Game
When Herndon and No. 7 South Lakes renew their longtime crosstown rivalry on Friday in the Liberty District opener for both teams, the game could have a different feel as both teams enter with unblemished records.
While the Seahawks have found success under coach Morgan Spencer, earning regional berths in each of his first four seasons after a 15-year drought, the Hornets have struggled in recent years. Things could be turning around, however, as second-year coach Chris Metz’ team improved to 5-0 after yesterday’s 1-0 win over Edison. Now, Herndon will get its biggest test to date when they welcome South Lakes (4-0) in the first of their two matchups this season.
The Seahawks, led by Virginia Military Institute recruit Ryan Dooley, have run off wins against Patriot District teams Fairfax, South County and W.T. Woodson after a 6-5 extra-inning win over Chantilly in their season opener, and despite being hit hard by graduation look to again be one of the Liberty favorites. Whether the Hornets join them in that category is a question that could be answered on Friday.
Photo of Westfield’s Travis Blee by Fred Ingham