The Lancers rush to the center of the infield, dog-piling on each other as Queen’s “We are the Champions” plays in the background.
This was the scene as Thousand Oaks baseball secured their Marmonte League title in a dominant 6-0 win against Oaks Christian, but their run is not over yet, with the Lancers coming into CIF playoffs ranked as the best Division 2 in the Southern Section and ranked 12th in all of California.
A league best 10-1 record in Marmonte was the product of the Lancer’s talented young core, as well as an experienced group of upperclassmen to lead the team.
“Our defense is definitely out biggest strength,” senior first baseman Asher Witham said. “Our pitchers have done a great job this year of keeping the ball out of the air, making it hard for other teams to get extra base hits off of us. The defense as a whole has done a great job as well.”
Sophomore Max Muncy led the team by hitting with 27 hits on the season, while also being the most consistent from behind the plate, batting at a .422 average. Senior pitcher Vince Reilly led the Lancers on the mound in terms of ERA with a 0.38 average on the season.
The numbers may be impressive, but the players feel they have something intangible that could be one of the teams main strengths this postseason.
“Our team has extremely good chemistry, and I think it is a big part of our success,” senior first baseman Josh Williams said. “In the clubhouse it’s like we’re all best friends, even though we [might not] all hang out outside of baseball.”
Nine seniors provide the Lancer’s with an experienced roster, which they feel has been an important factor this year.
“There’s a good amount of seniors on the team this season, so we definitely share what we know with all the younger guys on the team,” Witham said.
This experience helped the Lancers finish with a strong 23-4 overall record, which is no easy task as their schedule was one of the toughest in the state.
“Our biggest competitor in league was Oaks Christian, who came in second place in Marmonte,” Williams said. “Outside of league we played Harvard Westlake, who are ranked second in the state. We lost the game 4-3 but it was very close.”
Finishing the season strong on a 12 game winning streak has given the team a lot of confidence going into the playoffs.
With a strong lineup of young players, as well as the experience of nine seniors, the Lancers are focusing on making a CIF title run. Standout sophomores Roc Riggio and Max Muncy provide the team as big hitters, while the performance of pitchers, such as Vince Reilly and senior Blake Reilly, lead the team on the defensive end.
“We think we should win it all,” Williams said. “This is the best team we’ve had in years and if we play our A-game, I don’t think we can lose.”