Few baseball teams have gotten off to a hotter start this season than Northwest. The Grizzlies have outscored opponents this season by an average of just over 10 runs.
Yes, Northwest is a high-scoring team. It has put at least 12 runs of the scoreboard in all but one of its seven games. However, what sets it apart is its pitching. The trio of Brandon Phillips, Ethan Chadick and Jacob Spruil has proven to be a handful for opponents this season.
Phillips has three wins in as many starts and has been coach Travis Stockam's workhorse. As a senior, he's learned to trust his defense to make plays behind him, and so far this season Phillips has yet to let one get out of control.
Phillips said it is because of the chemistry he and his teammates established that dates back to before they ever stepped foot on the Northwest campus.
"We've all played with and against each other since we were about 6 years old. We know each other's tendencies," Phillips said. "We know what each of us wants to do. We're all thinking the same. It's a lot easier to pitch. You can throw strikes and not have to worry about striking every batter out. You can make them put the ball in play because your defense will back you up and make the plays."
Chadick has allowed six hits and two earned runs in four appearances. He has two wins and one save and a 0.93 ERA to show for 15 innings of work.
He's not one to take too much credit for his performances this season, though.
"I think it's a team deal. Yeah, I strike some guys out and I'm doing my work up on the mound, but there's a whole bunch of things behind that," Chadick said. "Good hard hits are sent out to the outfield and infield and our team's making plays. That helps me out a lot."
After a doubleheader against West on Tuesday, Northwest will get a chance to test its arms and defensive prowess against an equally hot Kapaun teamApril 23. Chadick says he looks forward the competition.
"It's more of a baseball game to us. I think guys get a little more excited. They have a little more excitement when we play those teams. We just go out there and play better baseball.
Check Chris Elliott's high school sports blog at blogs.varsitykansas.com. Reach him at 316-268-6296 or celliottwichitaeagle.com.