The Muenster Hornets had a slow start to the Muenster Highway 82 Tournament, dropping decisions to St. Mary’s and Edgewood, but they rebounded nicely the rest of the tournament.
The Hornets finished with four straight victories to go 4-2 overall and despite the two losses, Muenster head coach Josh Wheeler said the tournament was a success overall.
Muenster fell 6-2 to St. Mary’s and 2-1 to Edgewood on Thursday, March 18, but responded with a 12-6 win over Jones and a 5-4 win over Edgewood on Friday.
Saturday, the Hornets closed out the tournament with a 6-5 win over Windthorst and a 7-6 victory over Holliday.
“We’re pitching great,” Wheeler said. “If we can hit the ball a little bit, we’re going to be pretty good. We’re just pitching the ball really well. I don’t have any problems with the way we’re pitching. Anytime you play six games, it’s more mental than it is physical. We’ve always had tough kids, but it can wear on them. I thought we had more energy Friday and Saturday than we did Thursday for whatever reason.”
There is still plenty of room for improvement, Wheeler said, but it mainly has to do with mental focus rather than the Hornets’ physical abilities.
“We have to stop making errors,” Wheeler said. “There is one inning in our game where we don’t make the plays we should. It shouldn’t have been close against Windthorst or Holliday. We just have lapses in concentration and against St. Mary’s, they didn’t score an earned run. We really should have been 5-1 in the tournament. Edgewood beat us in the night cap and I can live with that loss.”
Despite the mental lulls, Wheeler still has faith in his team’s defense.
“A few of our guys have to get better at going after the ball, but hopefully we’ll be ready by May when we start the playoffs,” Wheeler said. “We just have to concentrate and not make those mental mistakes. We’re fully capable of being really good on defense.”
Saturday’s games in particular were fruitful for the Hornets’ offense as they put up 13 runs in two games.
“I thought our offense picked up and we were better hitting the ball,” Wheeler said. “We laid down a few bunts and small balled a little bit. We’re getting better and we hit every day. I don’t know what else we could be doing besides doing what we’re doing.”
Wheeler said the tournament was valuable experience for his young team and said the talent of the teams was pretty equal across the board.
“I think St. Mary’s went 3-1 and Holliday was 3-1,” Wheeler said. “Jones was 2-2 and Lindsay was 2-2. Any of those teams could beat anybody. Anytime you get at-bats, the more comfortable the guys get and we got to work on a lot of stuff.”
Wheeler said there is strong camaraderie on the team and that everyone gets along great. He thinks that close bond the team has will lead to more success.
“I don’t think they get down and they think they can beat anybody and it’s because of the attitude they have,” Wheeler said. “I really like our team and we’re really young.”
Muenster continues district play Wednesday, March 24, against Alvord. Wheeler said he feels good about where the team is at as it transitions back to district play. The Hornets will also play Alvord again Friday, March 26.
Wheeler said he likes being able to play the same team in consecutive games.
“Alvord and Lindsay are the teams we have to beat, so it’s a big week for us,” Wheeler said. “Especially with the way our district is, it kind of favors us in a way. We don’t have an ace, so I feel like it benefits us a little bit because they can’t pitch their ace twice.”