The West Rutland baseball team’s season was never going to be about wins and losses. It was about laying the framework for what comes next.
The Golden Horde’s 2021 season came to an end on Tuesday in the opening round of the Division IV playoffs, a 12-2 loss to Danville.
It was the final chapter of the book that was West Rutland’s first baseball season since 2016.
The Golden Horde took their lumps this season, an blow out opening day loss to an elite Blue Mountain club comes to mind.
But more importantly, their triumphs were plenty. They beat Mount St. Joseph and Poultney once and were competitive in games against strong clubs like Proctor and Arlington.
Game in and game out, you could see the improvement in the Horde’s play. The baseball instincts slowly revealed themselves and by season’s end, they had playoff hopes just like every team in Vermont. It didn’t go their way on Tuesday, but such is life.
For five years, something was missing at the school on Main Street in Westside.
The softball team established themselves a powerhouse in Division IV, but the field a few hundred feet away was left empty from varsity competition.
It took a lot of cogs to make Westside’s return to America’s pastime come to fruition. Without the work of Athletic Director Joe Harrington to the effort of co-coaches Mark Trepanier and Dave Bartlett to help teach the game, this return probably isn’t as successful.
They provided the push and their players took off running.
A player like Caden Reed has the natural gifts of a strong ballplayer. He has a powerful fastball and the instincts that made him a force for the Golden Horde this year.
He hadn’t had a chance to play high school ball, but this year, he did and he shined.
Tim Blanchard is a guy that is well-known for his talents on the basketball court, but his effort on the baseball diamond needs to be commended.
He told Rutland Herald sportswriter Tom Haley after a game that he opted to play his senior year because Bartlett is a friend of his and asked him to play.
High school baseball is a commitment. I know this from first-hand experience. If you want to be good at it, it takes time and effort. Blanchard was willing to make that sacrifice.
Blanchard was selfless and worked to help bring the program back. Without him getting others to come out for the club, who knows if the team would have made its return this spring.
He set an example for the next generation of Westside ballplayers. If the baseball team can continue on after this season, he’ll be remembered for that.
Eighth-grader Andrew Bailey is someone I’m sure will make every effort to make sure there’s a team for the 2022 season and beyond.
He showed flashes of just how special a ballplayer he is this spring and with him at the fore, the next few years with the Horde could be special.
Everyone involved with Westside baseball did something special this year.
They resurrected something that had been left in the past and gave it new life.
Westside, here’s to you.