Webb: 'We exceeded our expectations'

Tom Batters
Richwoods baseball coach Dave Webb said he was very pleased with his team's effort all season. The Knights won 20 games and only lost one game in the Mid-State 6 Conference. They also won a Regional title. before losing to Bloomington in the Galesburg Super-Sectional

At the start of the baseball season Richwoods coach Dave Webb set two main goals for his players — finish with a winning record and make a run for the Mid-State 6 Conference title.

“We blew by those goals,” said Webb, who guided the Knights to a 20-13 record that included just one conference loss. “We exceeded our expectations. Overall, I’m very pleased with the season these kids put together.”

Richwoods won a Regional championship before losing to Bloomington, 4-0, in the Galesburg Sectional Semi-final last week.

Webb said the tough loss should not overshadow his team’s “amazing” season.

“We knew that we wouldn’t score as many runs as some other teams, so our pitching and defense had to carry us,” he said. “That was big all year. Our pitching and defense were excellent. Those two areas were the most important keys to our success.”

Starting pitchers Ben Hogan, Andy Luiten and Peter Cunningham anchored the pitching rotation. Second baseman Jeff Crusen, Cunningham at shortstop, catcher Dan Ardis and center fielder Matt Perez all played outstanding defense, Webb said.

“When you play well up the middle, like those guys did, then you can win games, even if you’re not scoring a lot of runs,” he said.

Webb said he was also very pleased at the “all-out effort” his players gave during every game and practice.

“I credit our seniors for that,” he said. “They set a good example. They played the way you are supposed to play this game. They showed that, if you play hard and compete, anything can happen.”

Perez, one of the seniors, led the team in almost every offensive category, which was no surprise to Webb.

“He was a very good hitter last year, so I expected him to come out and have a great year,” he said. “He’s a tremendous player.”

This was Webb’s first season as head coach. He served as Dave Lang’s top assistant coach for the past several years.

“I was lucky. Coach Lang let me do things that prepared me to be the head coach,” Webb said. “I expected to have success. I don’t know if I would have predicted 20 wins, but I can’t say I’m too surprised. I knew we had some great kids in this program, and I knew that, if they worked hard, they could have a great season.”