To this point in the season, Barron Collier baseball has found a way to win.
The Cougars, who are set to host Dunedin in the Class 6A-District 12 Regional Final on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., may not have the same individual performers that they’ve had in past seasons. But this campaign has been about a team-first approach.
And now the Cougars (19-9) are one win away from state.
“We’ve talked about it all the time this year…we have a great team, great athletes, but on paper we don’t have the same high-profile guys,” said Charlie Maurer, the head coach of the Cougars. “This team is just gritty, they just find a way to win.”
Only one of two Collier County teams left standing (along with Seacrest Country Day), the Cougars are coming off of a 2-0 grind-it-out win against Ida Baker last round. Now, they’ll face Colton Widdows, who has paced the visiting Falcons through the playoffs.
Dunedin’s senior left-handed pitching ace is committed to play at the University of Tampa next season, having single-handedly thrown the Falcons (14-14) into the state mix.
“They’re a .500 team, but they have a real good arm; a big lefty we’re getting ready for. With games a week in between each other, they have one-armed their way through the playoffs,” Maurer said, giving Widdows credit for his dominant efforts.
On the Cougars’ side of the mound, junior Nick Geller will get the start Tuesday.
Geller has maintained his stance as the go-to guy on the mound for the Cougars, stepping up all season long. And he’ll get a chance to repeat his best outing yet.
“He has been our guy all year, starting all of our big games. He did well against Ida Baker, throwing his best game when the money was on the line. And everybody is fresh behind him because of this one game a week deal.”
Not to be discounted, the Cougars will be playing in front of their home crowd, which could attract more fans than usual seeing that area teams are already done.
Maurer said that being able to play at home is a huge boost in regards to routine.
“It’s tough enough having to go on a two-hour bus ride, so being able to be the last team around town is going to make it pretty electric. Having the support, being the last public school left, it’s huge…you can’t put a price on it.”
Above all else, the players’ approach has led them further than anyone expected. But Maurer isn’t surprised by the outcome, he’s merely enjoying the ride that has been.
“It’s not an ego thing for them, the camaraderie is great. They get it, figured it out, and just want to win. These guys just weren’t scared, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
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