The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Swinging for the fences

Read about the LM Aces baseball team’s journey this year.
Graphic by Caleigh Newbert ’26

Swinging back from yet another disappointing season, having missed the playoffs last year, the LM Aces baseball team has clawed their way to a promising start in the Central League. Led by second year Head Coach Colin Quinn and Assistant Coach Brandon Mussellman, the Aces have made it clear that they are a serious team looking to add to an almost empty banner of Central League Championships.

On day one of tryouts, Quinn stated that “no spot is guaranteed.” Staying true to his word, Quinn and Mussellman decided to make more cuts than in prior years, setting the precedent for the rest of the season to come. This year, the Aces’ coaching staff decided to film every inning of play and scout every opponent, not only in the Central League, but also against out-of-conference foes like the ones from Illinois and Kentucky that the team faced over spring break in Vero Beach, Florida. Learning from their rookie seasons, Quinn and Mussellman have made it clear that to be a serious program, they have to act like one.

Coming out the gates, the Aces lived up to the coaches’ expectations. Facing last year’s Central League Champions, Garnet Valley, Van Willner ’24 led the way for the Aces on the mound, winning 5-0. With no runs scored, eleven strikeouts, and only two hits allowed in the full game, Willner earned DELCO player of the week. Next, against Conestoga, Sam Wright ’23 and Isaiah Negron ’24 proceeded to hold the Pioneers to just one earned run, securing the Aces a 3-2 win heading into the team’s spring break trip to Vero Beach.

Throughout the years, the Aces have held a tradition to go on spring break trips to warmer places down south. Although these trips are highlighted as an opportunity for the players to compete in a series of games (and for the coaches to watch them and further determine the lineup), the now annual trips are also designed as a team bonding experience. Despite the 1-2 record against a couple talented opponents, the players gained valuable experience and enjoyed the trip, having fun with mini golf, spikeball, and the ocean.

The week following spring break, the Aces returned to Central League play with three faceoffs: Ridley, Springfield, and Harriton. With Ridley struggling at the start of the season, the Aces went into the bout without a doubt on their minds, but the Green Raiders made it close. Going into the top of the seventh, the Aces were down 4-1, and the bats had been cold all game. After a string of hits, walks, and hit by pitches, Gus Wright ’25 came up to the plate with bases loaded and two outs down 4-2. This was easily the play of the year thus far. Stroking one to deep left center field, Wright reached second base knocking in three runs to put the Aces up 5-4. With momentum on their side, Everett Whalen ’23 held the Green Raiders scoreless in the bottom of the seventh to propel the Aces to victory.

Unfortunately, this was the end of the Aces’ Central League winning streak to open up the season. After starting the season 0-6, the Springfield Cougars upset the Aces 4-1. Following the disappointing loss to the Cougars, the bats went cold against the Harriton Rams in a heartbreaking ninth inning 2-1 loss. Even though they started the season out hot, these two blowing performances summarize the Aces’ offensive struggles. Through five games of
Central League play, the Aces are hitting a measly .211, with only a handful of bright spots. However, this dry spell does not accurately depict the team’s potential. With lots games left in the regular season, many of the team’s talented hitters who have struggled so far are eager to prove themselves. If the Aces can get their bats going to help out their star-studded pitching staff, “2023” could pop up on the Kobe Gym’s Central League Champions baseball banner.

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