The dominant pitching tandem of Michael Wegleitner and Tanner Regan is only part of the reason Silver Creek transformed from a team well outside the postseason conversation to one of the eight teams left standing a year later.
Don’t forget the dangerous bats awaiting throughout its lineup. And, of course, the maturity and culture change directed in part by its hungry senior class.
This weekend, the Raptors have plenty going for them — including a 17-game winning streak — as they head into the opening round of the double-elimination Class 4A state baseball tournament.
As the 2-seed, they’ll face No. 7 Wheat Ridge Friday at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.
The plan: Just keep things rolling.
“We kind of look at it as we have a faceless opponent sitting in the other dugout,” first-year coach Brad Steward said. “You’re playing the baseball. You’re not playing the other team. You’re playing against the game. So, go out and play like we’ve coached them up to play, and the way they’re capable of playing, and the results have usually ended up in our favor.”
Things have changed for the Raptors since they missed the 32-team regional field and finished 46th in the Class 4A RPI standings last year.
Led by nine seniors on the varsity roster, per MaxPreps, the Raptors (23-2) returned to the diamond this spring with a winning mindset and after an offseason of work. They won the 4A Northern League, then their region, all while not dropping a game in Colorado.
“We all felt we underachieved last year, we should have at least been a playoff team,” said Steward, who pointed to the leadership of his senior class as a starting point. “They bought into our offseason workouts and they have committed themselves to turning this program around.”
Regan, a senior, has been sensational in his first full season with the Raptors, quickly establishing himself as a productive cohort to junior Wegleitner.
Sitting out half of 2018 after transferring from Mead, Regan spent most of his first stint with the team at first base while coming in to pitch only 1 2/3 innings. In contrast, he is 7-0 with a 2.94 ERA this spring and has struck out 49 in 47 2/3 innings.
“Last year it was kind of a tough season for me,” Regan said. “I knew I had to step up big this year and be a lot better and be a great leader for this team.”
This weekend, the riches of having two pitchers with the ability to dominate an outing could turn out to be an eclipsing advantage.
In a 24-hour span earlier this month, Wegleitner — who has a 1.65 ERA over 51 innings this year — went seven innings in a complete-game, 9-1 victory in the first of two against the talented team from Longmont. Regan then followed it up with a one-hitter in a five inning, 11-1 win.
If the Raptors can get past Wheat Ridge Friday at noon, expect one ace to follow the other as they’d face the winner of No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain and No. 6 Holy Family immediately following at 2:30 p.m.
Weather in Colorado Springs is expected to be rainy through Thursday before clearing Friday. Earlier in the week, some parts of the city accumulated around a foot or more of snow.