Kinder Baseball Semi-Final Preview

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 9:57 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The 2022 Postseason was disappointing for the Kinder Yellow Jackets as they fell to 19th-seeded D’Arbonne Charter Woods in the Regional Round despite being the three-seed. Fast forward a year and they find themselves two wins away from capturing their first State Championship since 2019 when they managed an 11-4 win over the Doyle Tigers.

Head coach Rick Whittington says a large reason why the Yellow Jackets have been so successful is the experience of coming up short a year prior and the feeling of not wanting to go through that again.

“We thought we would be there last year in the finals, and we were upset, I try to teach them never to take any day for granted in life period, these are life lessons and you have to overcome whatever obstacle there is,” said Whittington. “They had it on their mind that they wanted to go to Sulphur, not to Sulphur, but to win a State Championship, and to win a State Championship we have to win two more games which is going to be very difficult.”

Kinder is the one-seed in the Non-Select Division III bracket, and with being the one-seed, there is the added pressure of performing and living up to the expectations that you’re one of the best teams in the state, but coach Whittington says when you reach the playoffs, you can’t focus on that.

“The way I take the seeds are, you earned it during the regular season, but you erase all seeds when you get to the playoffs, especially the semi-finals and finals because if you look at the other brackets, so many of the top-ranked guys are no longer there, so it’s game-by-game, so it’s how you prepare, and how your kids prepare, and how they believe.”

To get to this point, the Yellow Jackets beat 17th-seeded Springfield 18-1 in five innings, and 6-0 in the Regional Round, and then ninth-seeded Westlake 15-0 in five innings, and 5-0. Now, they will take on a difficult Berwick team, and coach Whittington admits it won’t be an easy task to get back to the State Title game.

“Our opponent Berwick is a very good opponent, they’ve got great pitching... and again, just because we’re the number one seed, that means absolutely nothing.”

Whittington, who has helped lead both Kinder, and Iowa to State Championships, is hoping to do it once again, not for himself, but for his seniors, and the Kinder community.

“I’ve been there, many times, but for these seniors, I would love it for them, to win it. It would mean so much to them, and to our community, but especially to our players.”

Kinder’s matchup with fifth-seeded Berwick is set for Wednesday at 2:00 on Field 40 at McMurry Park.

For the full interview with head coach Rick Whittington, click here.