All white uniforms may be every baseball mom’s worst nightmare. But not having the opportunity to get them dirty and losing is far worse. Windy City Herbert’s aggressive play and overpowering offense made sure they got dirty during their last game of pool play at the inaugural WWBA 17u Prospect Meadows National Championship. Beating Go Pro 2020 Kosack 15-3 sealed a 4-0 pool play record and the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
Windy City’s program only began four years ago, but many of the players on their 17u team have been with them the past three years. No one on the team is committed quite yet, but several have been going on college visits.
“I’d honestly take my group of boys and start a college program with them. I really think that regardless of the level I’d be able to compete with these boys just because they love playing together and on top of it, they’re all above-average athletes,” head coach Cori Herbert said. Herbert is also the current pitching coach at the University of St. Francis, an NAIA-affiliate in Joliet, Ill.
“If I can take anything from these boys in the last couple years I’ve been with them, it’s the fact that they’ve worked their butts off and I’m excited for their college futures and how they do in life.”
In the tournament so far, Windy City has outscored their opponents 41-18, utilizing 39 total hits, 15 of which were for extra bases. They also take charge of the basepaths, as they’ve stolen 15 bases. Herbert, though, has a unique approach to when his athletes steal.
“I don’t have signs. I don’t have a first base coach and I allow them to play and do their own things,” he explained. “It puts us in a lot of winning positions because the boys know how to play the game themselves instead of waiting for someone to tell them how.”
Windy City opened up their last game of pool play with a four-run first inning as Matt Salomonson brought in Ryan Nevins on a right field triple. Bryan Broecker followed with a double that was just shy of the left field fence and later scored on an error. Matthew Murphy also scored in the opening inning off an Andrew Smart single.
Go Pro responded with two runs, but Windy City’s recipe of five hits, three walks and two hit batters created nine runs. Go Pro tacked on one in the third and Windy City added two to create the 15-3 final score.
“As far as our hitting goes, we don’t have a hole in our lineup, which is pretty odd for a high school team,” Herbert said. “Before today’s game, we didn’t hit quite as well. I think it’s just getting back to using the wood bats again and learning how to find barrels instead of swinging with a metal and hoping for the best. I think we played a lot better today and we’re excited for the rest of the tournament.”
There are some things that the stats don’t show, though. The camaraderie between the team is something every coach dreams of. Many of the athletes either play with or against each other during the high school season and it shows when they put on their Windy City uniforms.
“I think truly that’s what travel baseball is about. It’s the friendships you create long-term and I think that’s what’s made our program so successful the past three to four years,” Herbert said. “Yes, we’re looking for the best talent, but we’re looking to take our part of the city and change the culture to baseball because it’s been a football side of town for a long time.”