Panther baseball team a smash hit this season

Greg Ceilley  Review Sports Editor

The way the Plymouth High School baseball team performed this past season is a good blueprint for how the game should be played.

Sure, the Panthers had a wealth of talent but it took more than that to achieve their outstanding season which included an Eastern Wisconsin Conference title and a trip to the state tournament. The Panthers were all on the same page when it came to teamwork; consistent execution on offense, defense, pitching and baserunning; and playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

PHS head coach Butch Cain emphasizes focusing on quality at-bats, pounding the strike zone, smart, aggressive baserunning and sound defense. A quality at-bat includes such areas as having good discipline by swinging at good pitches; advancing runners, even with an out; and going with the pitch to put the ball in play.

The PHS hurlers followed Cain’s script well which was to make the opposition put the ball in play and have the defense work. Plymouth’s aggressive mindset on offense paid off as the Panthers consistently put pressure on the defense by stealing, taking extra bases, hitting-and-running, and making contact.

The Panthers excelled in all of the aforementioned areas which were crucial to their terrific season as they finished 17-1 in the EWC and 28-5 overall. Another key component to the team’s success was the balance throughout the batting order. In many games this year PHS had good hitting production from the leadoff hitter all way down to the No. 9 batter.

PHS had an impressive eight players who batted over .300 this year.

The Panthers came to each game very well-prepared. This ballclub had all the bases covered when it came to fundamental baseball such as hitting the cutoff, backing up throws, laying down sacrifice bunts and throwing to the proper base.

The PHS coaching staff and the players were constantly communicating in order to execute properly in all facets of the game. The 2014 Panther baseball team was a well-oiled machine in which the players and coaches worked in sync with each other.

Jeff Bigler, head coach of Brookfield Central which won the state summer baseball title recently, has the utmost respect for Cain and the PHS baseball program. Central edged PHS, 2-1, in the state semifinals in a terrific pitchers’ duel.

“Plymouth is absolutely a well-coached team. They deserved to be here [at state],” said Bigler after the semifinal game.

“The way they came out here and played, they are as good as anyone in the state.

“Butch Cain has been around for a while. I respect everything he does and the program he runs,” said Bigler.

Elijah Goodman, the winning pitcher for the Lancers against PHS at state with a two-hitter and 13 strikeouts, also had glowing remarks about the Panthers.

“They’re a very good team, disciplined, and a very solid team,” said Goodman after the game. “They have a very tough lineup.”

The Panther baseball program has earned the respect of many other opponents as well. The Panthers play the game the way it’s supposed to be played. They rarely beat themselves. Often times, opponents will have to outwork and out-execute the Panthers to emerge victorious.

Cain was named the EWC and Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year which is very well-deserved. Cain, who has been the Panthers’ head coach since 2004, is a real student of the game and relates to the players very well. He has put his heart and soul into the program and it’s nice to see him earn recognition.

Cain’s coaching honors are a reflection of the Panthers’ success, the work of his coaching staff and the support from the school, fans, parents and community. He shares the honors with his players, assistant coaches and everyone else who supported the team this past season.

The 2014 Plymouth baseball team was a big hit and has much to be proud of. The Panthers’ hard work, commitment to excellence and enthusiasm paid off handsomely. It was a great ride, indeed.


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