The Cypress Creek High baseball team just completed its best season in the program’s brief history, being one of three Pasco County teams that advanced to the second round of the State Tournament.
Joining Mitchell and River Ridge, the Coyotes (16-8) narrowly lost in the Class 5A region semifinals to Eau Gallie 5-4 on May 12 and capped their most impressive season despite not winning a district title.
“There’s no real secret recipe except having the right mindset,” said coach Joe Neale, the program’s only coach. “I think the guys just put their heads down and worked harder than anyone else, and it paid off.”
Leading the way for Cypress Creek was third baseman Ethan Petry, who batted .479 on 34 hits with 18 RBI, nine doubles, two triples and a team-high six homers. Petry also stepped up on the mound this season, going 5-2 with a 1.97 ERA and a team-high 60 strikeouts. While the senior is committed to the University of South Carolina, the 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander has risen up the draft prospect charts as a two-way player.
“We’re definitely proud of what we accomplished, not just from a winning standpoint,” Neale said, “but with the guys we have and who they’ve become and are going to become. We’ve got three guys playing at the next level, a few more joining the military, and another who wants to work with youth players at the Little League level. That makes coaching even more satisfying.”
Also bound for collegiate ball is Caden Kwiat, who is headed to East Georgia State College as a pitcher. On the mound, Kwiat went 4-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 49 strikeouts. Catcher Nick Sanchez is headed to Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina after batting .306 with 22 hits, 14 RBI, two doubles and two triples.
Despite not winning the district title, Neale was thrilled for the team to get its first state tournament win, especially after losing a big group of players in 2021 that had left many questions about its prospects.
“I think a lot of people thought we’d take a step back, but we responded well and had the kind of season we thought we could have after a 20-win season (last year),” Neale said. “Looking back at the stats and seeing that we had five one-run games and four extra-inning games just shows our fortitude and how we composed ourselves all season. I’m excited to see where we go from here.”
Published on June 1, 2022.
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