The Cathedral High School baseball team had lofty goals in 2018.
As season’s end approached, the Irish were putting themselves in position to make a run at those goals – and to make yet another postseason run.
Ed Freije, who coached the Irish to an unbeaten record and the Class 4A state championship in his first season as coach in 2017, early in the season didn’t expect an easy ‘18 in the wake of that memorable debut.
“We talked about the expectations obviously being at a high level year in and year out,” Freije said of an Irish program that has won three state titles since 2001, with the 2017 title the school’s second at the Class 4A level and first since 2007.
“We embrace that and we want that,” Freije added of expectations. “We wouldn’t want the opposite of that. We want high expectations and we want people to hold our program to high standards.”
Freije did expect the Irish to be a competitive team with a chance in every game – and as the postseason opened, the Irish were just that.
The Irish were 18-8-1 entering the postseason, and were among teams receiving votes in the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association rankings.
They were scheduled to play Warren Central in the semifinal round of the Section 10, Class 4A tournament. The Irish entered the postseason having won eight of 10 games, having spent much of the early part of the season ranked in the Class 4A IHSBCA poll.
“We talked a little bit about preseason polls,” Freije said at the time. “I always kind of laugh a little bit with those. Nobody’s played a game yet. We talked about how last year going into the season we weren’t receiving votes and weren’t on the radar and we came out on top. This year all of a sudden we’re ranked No. 1.
“We graduated some key pieces and we returned some key pieces, but it’s a long season ahead and a lot of baseball to be played. We’ll focus on ourselves and how we can get better day in and day out.”
The Irish in ’18 were led by a solid senior class that included outfielders Seth Link, Mack Murphy and Evan Uhland and shortstop/pitcher Jared Poland. Murphy batted .287 with eight doubles in the regular season, with Link batting .262, Uhland batting .253 with 16 runs batted in and Poland batting .378 with eight triples and seven home runs.
Senior catcher Colin Greene hit .362 with 16 runs batted in during the regular season and junior third baseman Carl Vassilo hit .373 with 11 doubles.
Also key to the ’18 Irish: junior pitchers Derek Haslett, Peyton Schofield and Sam Phillips, Poland sophomore pitcher Kyle Cortner. Haslett went 5-0 with a 2.12 earned run average in the regular season and junior pitcher Mitch Bertrand went 3-1 with a .41 ERA. Schofield went 4-2 with a 1.34 ERA.
“Going into the season, we talked about, ‘This is a new season, it’s a new group, it’s 2018 with new guys and new guys in different spots,’’’ Freije said. “We talked about, ‘What the program was able to accomplish last year was different than what had been done the year before and the year before that; this year will be different and next year will be different and each year kind of takes on its own identity.’ We just want to go out and compete at a high level day in and day out, and ultimately be in position to win a baseball game every night.”
The 2018 season also marked the inaugural season for Brunette Park, a 35-acre facility acquired through a major donation from Dan Brunette – a 1970 Cathedral graduate – and his wife, Betsy. The complex includes baseball and softball diamonds as well as offices, parking and an indoor community center.
“The park itself is beautiful; just having that place to call home is great,” Freije said. “The facility is gorgeous. Turfdogs did a great building the field and Ryan Weaver does a great job maintaining it. It’s great for the fans. It’s great for the school. It’s great for the program, obviously, and we’re extremely thankful for it.
“It plays beautifully and the atmosphere is great. We’re looking forward to calling it home.”
Editor’s note: Because of printer deadlines, the postseason results of the Cathedral baseball team were unavailable at press time. For information on the Irish’s postseason baseball results for 2018, please visit gocathedral.com.