After seeding, what happened during the regular season doesn’t mean much in the playoffs. In a way, the playoffs are a brand new season, one where only the deepest, mentally strong teams succeed.
Cape Henlopen, named the No. 4 overall seed in this year’s DIAA Baseball State Tournament, will open their playoff run on Saturday afternoon after a first round bye.
Heading into the playoffs the Vikings believe they’re as well prepared as any team in the field, mainly because of their depth. Whether it’s on the mound or at the plate, the Vikings have been a handful for opponents.
Zack Gelof, arguably the best shortstop in the state, helped lead the way for an offense that averaged over eight runs a game. Standout catcher Zach Savage can steady things behind the plate for an impressive pitching staff including David Erickson, Austin Elliott and Gelof, which kept opponents to an average of two runs.
More importantly, Cape has produced consistently against an extremely challenging schedule, coach Ben Evick said it was by design.
“I try to schedule a very competitive schedule every year to get a feel with where we really are as a team,” said Evick. “I feel great how well our guys have responded this year - they’ve done an amazing job coming together as a team and taking on their roles to work toward a common goal.”
The Vikings dominated the notoriously tough Henlopen Conference, finishing 13-0 against conference opponents. Cape came away with big out-of-conference victories over standouts Middletown and Salesianum.
“We’ve played against some great competition and we’ve seen most teams’ number one pitchers,” Evick said. “We also played the No. 2 team in the country, Riverdale Baptist, and we had them into the sixth inning, so our guys are for sure battle tested.”
Time off has its benefits, especially for a pitching staff. Throughout the season the effort by the pitchers has put Cape in a great position to be ready for whatever was in front of them.
“We’ve been very lucky to have such a deep pitching staff that no one really had to throw a lot this year,” Evick said. “Our schedule the last three weeks has been a Tuesday/Friday game day scenario which has allowed us to be completely rested and ready to go for each game.”
While the team is well rested, rain in the forecast could make the Vikings wait even longer to play their first game, but Evick says he and his team will remain focused.
“It will be interesting to see how it all plays out,” Evick said. “We will put our guys in as many gamelike situations as possible this week to keep them fresh, but I’m not worried about their competitive edge, they came into the season with a goal in mind and they’re working extremely hard to realize that dream.”