Staff Writer: Troy Langmeyer
Last year the 2021 Baseball team won the second team national championship in school history and went on a run that will never be forgotten. But the measure of a great program is not if you reach the top of the mountain, but how often you can stay within reach of the summit.
This year the team is in a new season with similar goals. Essentially what that means is, how often can the Bulldogs stay National Title contenders? As with every year, The Wingate Baseball team has lofty expectations.
The standard of excellence was set long before any of the current players and coaches arrived on campus and put on the Gold and Blue Jersey. The history is that of a rich tradition that can be traced back to the very beginning. But the recent achievement is new territory, even for a storied program like Wingate Baseball.
Players realize that the bar is set that much higher. “We know that winning the National Title comes with new challenges and even higher expectations than before,” senior Pitcher and major contributor Brody McCullough says. “We need to realize that a target is on our back, but we also need to learn to embrace it and know that we’re going to get every team’s best when they play us.”
That is one of the new challenges that the team will have to face moving forward. Every team wants a shot at the champions and for some programs who might be in a lower spot, having a chance at beating Wingate is potentially the biggest thing they could accomplish all season.
“Every team we face will be just that much more amped to play us and we need to be ready to take that on,” McCollough said. “We have to learn how to be on top of our game the whole season.”
The Bulldogs are ready for the task that is ahead. “Every program wants to get to this point – the point of being the standard within the conference, region, and even country,” said Austin Johnson, also a senior pitcher.
“It sounds cliche, but we aren’t satisfied with just one championship. By finally breaking through and winning our first title, the yearly expectations are now elevated to reaching the College World Series almost every season.”
Those are lofty goals for a program whose first College World Series appearance was last year making them 1 for 1 on making it to the final 8 and winning it all.
Some people dubbed the 2021 Bulldogs as a “team of destiny” or a “Cinderella Story”, but the Bulldogs are eager to show that last year was not a fluke. And so far into the 2022 season, the team is undefeated at 8-0 and ranked #1 nationally. Right where they expected to be.