Wildcats, Crusaders ready for Metro League showdown
Through 11 games, Westview's made the Metro League into mincemeat.
Two of the contests have been relatively close. But mostly it's been blowout after blowout as the Wildcats have risen to No. 2 in the Class 6A power rankings and frankly looked unbeatable at times behind the right arm of Willie Weiss and an unavoidably scary lineup.
There hasn't been a worthy Wildcat challenger, yet. That's about to change in the form of their fiercest rival. On Friday and Monday, Westview and Jesuit rekindle a feud that dates back more than a decade. Jesuit (16-3, 11-1 in Metro) is No. 3 in the 6A power rankings and clicking having won 15 of their last 16 games. Westview (18-2 overall, 11-0 in Metro) is on a 13-game win streak of its own. They're the two flagship programs of the conference set for a titanic showdown that could ultimately decide the league title winner.
Neither squad would have it any other way.
"It's the biggest rivalry in Metro," Weiss said. "Both teams always have great ball clubs. It's always fun to play against Jesuit. It's always a really competitive series."
Westview's rattled off the past six Metro titles including the last two outright while Jesuit has the latest state title, capturing the crown in 2016. That year the Crusaders beat the Wildcats in the 6A semifinals en route to their first state title in school history, too. There's a healthy amount of bad blood between both sides, brought about from wars of the past and highly competitive players who have both funneled through the programs and those who still remain.
"It gets a little chippy," Weiss said with a smile. "Both dugouts are chattery. It doesn't really go well when they're both talking. We're gonna leave it all on the field and do our best to beat them. Hopefully, we can hit the ball around the yard like we've been doing and pitch well. Hopefully, we come out and put it to 'em."
Jesuit sports talent and athleticism at every position from first baseman James Porter to around the infield with Will Spitznagel, Ennis Ferguson and Kevin Blair. Senior pitcher Trey Werner has opening day starter stuff on the mound and could get the ball in one of the two Wildcat contests. Sophomore pitcher Ethan Wilson is a star in the making, capable of coming out the bullpen in long relief, start, or close out a game late. There's speed and defensive ability in the outfield with Dorsey Wilhoite and David Arndorfer.
Weiss pitches the second of the two games, at home on Monday at 5 p.m. The first game is Friday at Jesuit at 5 p.m.
Despite the lack of discernible in-league test, Weiss said Westview has remained sharp, pointing toward the sizable gap in scores as proof of the Wildcats' attention to detail. Westview has won eight Metro games by five runs or more and hasn't taken any foe lightly.
"We're not overlooking anyone, we're just going out there and playing our game," Weiss said. "It's nice being ranked that high, but it doesn't mean anything until the end of the year. Once playoffs are over you know who's the real No. 1."
Weiss, Mante Woods, Carter Sakamato, Ben Braukmann and Jacob Cox are the heart of a Wildcat lineup that strengthens every week. Westview freshman first baseman Mason Guerra, who recently committed to Oregon State, has fit in seamlessly hitting-wise and defensively. Outfielder Josh Moreno moved into the second spot in the order with his southpaw swing and is one of the team's leaders in on-base percentage. Evan Williamson and Tyler Antich have found ways to impact the game at the dish.
"We don't have a hole in our lineup," Weiss said. "Everyone on the team is on fire right now. I think our team batting average is around .400. There's no other offense I'd rather have behind me. Hopefully, it keeps going."
Weiss is a strike-throwing metronome who has the entire Metro League shaking its head in bewilderment trying to come with a way to hit the University of Michigan signee. The righty had his flummoxing slider working on Tuesday as he struck out 16 in a 9-0 win over Century. Weiss allowed just one hit in the complete game triumph and in 42 innings of work he's bagged 93 strikeouts. He's an ace in every sense of the word, a thoroughbred capable of taking Westview deep in the postseason.
"I just love going out there and competing," Weiss said. "I love going out there against the other team's day-one (starter) and competing against the best team in the state."