The West Ashley baseball team had reason to celebrate after Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Goose Creek. The victory gave the Wildcats their first outright region championship since the school opened in 2000.
The Wildcats are 12-8, including 6-2 in Region 7-AAAA.
“It’s been a process,” said Mitch Miggenburg, who has been head coach at West Ashley since 2008. “I instilled how I wanted them to play baseball, to play hard and do the little things well. We finally got to see some success. Last year, we finished last and we lost three or four one-run games. This year, we’ve played well when we needed to. We didn’t fold.”
Three seniors — pitcher David Allen, catcher/infielder/outfielder John Michael Gibbons and pitcher/designated hitter Zack Denton — have provided leadership for the Wildcats.
Allen and Gibbons had big roles in the title-clinching victory over the Gators. Allen pitched a two-hitter and struck out 12, while Gibbons hit a pair of home runs.
Miggenburg was the starting third baseman for the College of Charleston from 2000-01 and spent four years as head coach at Academic Magnet before being named an assistant coach at West Ashley in 2007. He stresses defense, small ball and giving 100 percent on the field.
The Wildcats also have top-level juniors on the roster, including pitcher Jonathan Sabo and first baseman Taylor Oden.
Sabo is the team’s top hitter with a .500 batting average and is listed in the top three of most offensive categories. He also leads the pitchers with five victories and 56 strikeouts.
“Jonathan Sabo and Taylor Oden have really been leaders,” Miggenburg said. “Those guys have helped us boost our confidence. They play with enthusiasm, and it rubs off on the other players.”
Miggenburg said this year’s team has been fun to coach.
“The kids have the right attitude, and the chemistry has been outstanding,” he said. “The attitude is so much better this year. The kids worked hard in the weight room during the offseason, and it has paid off on the field.”
The state playoffs begin next week, and the Wildcats will open at home.
“I’m excited for our players,” Miggenburg said. “We’ve made the playoffs before, but it was more or less by default. We’re excited that our seniors get to experience this. Obviously we want to win, but getting there is the first step. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil