MIKE EYSTER / CHRONICLE PHOTOS - Jeff Fripp Jr., hitting one of his home runs in April, started the Beacons’ home season with a homer and ultimately earned all-conference honors.
While the Bushnell Beacons fell short of reaching the postseason in their inaugural Cascade Collegiate Conference campaign, the season was still very successful on some levels.
“Making the playoffs was obviously a big goal for us, but setting the correct foundation and program culture was also incredibly important,” assistant coach Jamie Womack said. “This group of kids was able to do that well. As a coaching staff we never stopped pushing and they never stopped expecting results from themselves every game. To play meaningful baseball all the way until the last game was a big deal for this group.”
First baseman Jeff Fripp had a memorable year at the plate, hitting 8 of his team’s 22 home runs while hitting .311 with an OPS of .924.
Manager Tommy Richards, middle, speaks with an umpire and opposing manager before a game.
“Jeff was huge this year. Being the first Beacon player to be named first-team all-conference will be something that’s always remembered,” Womack said. “We will return every position player and add in some new recruits who will continue to elevate the standard. With such a young core, we believe they’ve laid a firm foundation to build on going into Year 2.”
A young pitching staff, after a rocky beginning, got some brilliant starts from several players.
“While we say goodbye to senior Abbott Haffar, we bring back a lot of youth on the mound who gained valuable experience,” Womack said. “They all were forced to step up in big ways at some point this season and we’re excited to watch them continue to grow and step up moving forward. In a league filled with talent we will continue to see our team identity develop as these young pitchers do.”
The Beacons played well at home this season, but they will have to learn how to win on the road, after going 2-24 as the visiting team.
“The struggles on the road will get better with experience. We learned a lot of ways to win and lose games this year,” Womack said. “We did that also with a roster whose average age resembled that of a young junior college team. The experience and lessons learned will pay dividends. We’re not moral victory guys, but it’s really easy to feel optimistic about this group’s chances moving forward.”
Trying to stay sharp as coaches of an inaugural program has presented a new set of challenges.
“As a coaching staff I think it’s fair to say that coaching a first-year program brought a lot of new perspectives for all of us. Baseball is crazy and will always surprise you. You can’t predict what will happen, you just have to control the controllables,” Womack said. “We can work harder than everyone else, diligently prepare and put our players in the best position to succeed as we can and that’s what we will continue to do.
“We’re very proud of this group. This might be the tightest-knit group we’ve seen on a baseball field and for them to achieve that camaraderie and team chemistry in one season is impressive. Wish we didn’t have to take an off-season, but excited for Year 2 and all the boys to return to campus in the fall.”