Nick Phillipps and his teammates are playing the waiting game.
The Plumstead Christian senior righthander is confident his team – a senior-heavy squad – can elevate their level of play in the final weeks of the season. They haven’t been concerned with their statistics, but instead with building a tight, cohesive unit.
With an overall 6-3 mark to begin the week, Phillipps envisions his team making an impact in the postseason. Phillipps is part of a steady triumvirate with senior Jackson Mott and sophomore DJ Glass, who have positioned the Panthers with their arms and bats to their current state.
“I think the season is going well so far,” said Phillipps, who will attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., in the fall. “We definitely can be better than we are, and I look forward to when we start playing our best baseball.”
When Phillipps dislocated his arm during his soccer season, the prospects of pitching looked slim.
“My arm feels pretty good, and I am just happy to be on the mound. I thought I wasn’t going to pitch this season.”
Head coach Bill Weaver, who is in his ninth year as head coach and 13th overall in the program, has worked to take the spotlight off individual achievements, and stressed a unified front.
“We have a great group of guys who are really tight,” stressed Weaver. “There is a good chemistry here. This has to be one of the closest teams I have had, and they are an experienced bunch.
“They are having fun, and playing loose.”
Weaver noted the consistent contributions of Phillipps, Mott and Glass, who have spearheaded the Panthers’ pitching and hitting.
“Those three have thrown really well for us,” said Weaver. “They give us three solid starters to rely on. All of them have been getting the job done at the plate as well for us.
Mott, who is an outfielder and will continue his career at Indiana Wesleyan, sees a similar situation and outcome.
“I think this year’s team has the potential to go far as long as we play to our strengths and play our game,” he said. “It’s been great to see how much we’ve grown this year, and we have a bunch of guys stepping up and competing for spots.
“We’ve had our share of great games, as well as some not so great ones. But the most important thing is to finish the next two weeks strong and see where that leads us.”
Weaver also has looked to junior catcher Logan Rufe and freshmen Chase Blattner and Patrick O’Brien.
“Logan has been solid for us behind the plate,” said Weaver. “I think of the two freshmen as Ben Zobrist type of players, meaning I can put them just about anywhere, and they can pitch for us.
“They have been a big plus for us.”
With pitching depth, Weaver hasn’t been overly concerned with the recent crunched schedule of three or four games a week due to a series of rainouts.
“We’ve been looking ahead all year to see where we can get an advantage with our pitching,” he said. “It has worked out so far, and we know we’ll have to continue down the stretch.”
Weaver likes his team’s chances to be one of the top four in the District One Class A playoffs. They have been in that situation since 2015 and made the final game in 2017. The Panthers began the week as the fifth seed in the bracket.
“We’re playing some teams ahead that might be a little less skilled than us,” said Weaver. “We have to win games that we are supposed to win. There’s one game that we didn’t win and it may come back to haunt us.
“We just have to play to the level that we are capable of and beyond.”