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Cougar baseball gets back to winning ways
by Damian Tromerhauser
May 21, 2013 | 1416 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs senior right-hander Nikk Audenried was the Cougars' ace pitcher this spring.
Tribune file photo - Spanish Springs senior right-hander Nikk Audenried was the Cougars' ace pitcher this spring.
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When the 2012 season wrapped up for the Spanish Springs baseball team without a playoff appearance, the Cougars knew it would be a long offseason spent waiting to redeem themselves. Once back on the field, the Purple and Silver did just that.

Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann said part of the Cougars’ success came from the unity the team had on the diamond.

“I think it’s really important for any team that is going to be successful, the guys have to get along,” Hofmann said. “I really felt that our guys tried to pick each other up this year. Guys didn’t get down on each other. That built off itself as the season went on. They really enjoyed coming to the ballpark every day and enjoyed playing the game together.”

Spanish Springs entered its spring break tournament with an 8-3 D-I North record, thanks in part to taking series over Wooster and Hug, as well as a program-first sweep of Reno High.

After spring break the Cougars lost their initial return to league action, but the defeat only temporarily stalled a hot streak for SSHS. Over its next four league series, Spanish Springs did not taste defeat as it won eight in a row.

“I think it was a combination of a lot of things,” Hofmann said of the SSHS roll. “Guys were taking good approaches at the plate and we played pretty well defensively. Of course on top of that we had good pitching, which we got for the most part all year.

“It just felt like for a couple of weeks we really put everything together. Guys were having good at bats and playing good defense, just picking each other up. We got a lot of two-out base hits in that stretch and when you do that, good things tend to happen. The hitting got contagious and winning got contagious for us as well.”

Unfortunately for the Cougars, the infectious victories slowed after the streak of eight.

Spanish Springs dropped its final two contests of the regular season to enter the playoffs with a 16-6 league record and a No. 2 seeding. From there, SSHS won its opening postseason contest, but back-to-back defeats brought the Cougars season to an earlier than desired end with a 24-11 record overall.

“We had a good group of kids. They had good energy and we had good practices right up to the end of the season,” Hofmann said. “They really competed each and every game. It didn’t turn out the we hoped or wanted it to, and we might have had a lack of execution toward the end, but for the most part we put together a pretty good effort. The energy and enthusiasm for the game was there and that is all you can ask for.”

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