The hope of every high schooler who attends an institution of limited athleticism is that they will be there when one of their programs cranks out “the dream team.” Improbably enough, this year has had two: basketball in the fall, and now baseball.
While the basketball team’s success fluctuated over the years, the baseball team has had a poor record throughout its 12-year career.
But not this year.
This year, they made it to the playoffs for the first time, finishing with a league record of 9-3 and an overall record of 13-5.
“It feels good,” said senior Dominic Stephen, who’s been on the team for four years. “After putting in so many hours, we made it.”
And make it they did. But why after all these years? One obvious answer is freshman Miles Edwards. In other seasons, the Cavs have suffered from a lack of good pitching. Usually, the team would rely on one or two pitchers, often having to make do with putting an infielder on the mound when they reached their pitch limit.
With the addition of Edwards, though, the Cavs were given a rare thing: somebody who plays serious baseball outside of school. Armed with what was basically a walk-on starter, the Cavs had guaranteed themselves at least one good arm on the mound.
“In other years we struggled because we didn’t have the pitching,” said coach Chris Millsback. “(Edwards) made a huge difference because he added another element of pitching.”
But to attribute the large jump in strength only to Edwards would be to overlook another fine addition to the team – although this time, it was an addition to the coaching staff.
Michael Cvetich, the newest member of the technology department, also became the newest assistant coach of Country Day baseball – a position that used to be filled by parent Gary Smith.
While Smith had tried his best to be at games and practices, his schedule rarely afforded him the time to attend the latter.
Cvetich had played ball for UC Merced and Country Day and still plays for the Turlock Bears in a semi-professional adult league.
Because of this, Cvetich has a keen eye for pitching and works closely with the pitchers.
“One big mistake that new players-turned-coaches make is to have everyone pitch like (the coaches) do,” Cvetich said. “That doesn’t work. I tell them to do what’s easy and natural, and then we work on things like balance and aim.”
However, Cvetich offered more than just pitching expertise. “He allowed me to work with the infielders and outfielders while he was throwing to guys in the cage,” Millsback said. “And he throws pretty darn hard, which helped us prepare for other teams.”
This allowed the team to improve in fielding and batting.
“In practice, we got twice as much done as we did in other years,” Stephen said.
As for next year’s prospects, Millsback remains hopeful, but keeps his expectations realistic. Although he and the team will be losing the bulk of their roster to graduation, Millsback hopes that some incoming eighth graders, all of whom play travel ball, will make up for the lost skill.
“It’ll be very difficult to replace a senior class with so much leadership,” Millsback said. “But I’m confident we’ll make the playoffs.”
Previously published in the print edition on May 26, 2015.