Winter Garden Tangelos win Futures Wood-bat League
| 1:07 a.m. August 6, 2015
SANFORD — While the Winter Garden Squeeze may have sputtered in its sophomore season, finishing the campaign with an 8-28 record, the small town with a juicy past wasn’t devoid of baseball success this summer.
The Winter Garden Tangelos, which compete in the Florida Collegiate Summer League’s Futures Wood-bat League, defeated the Sanford Monarchs 6-3 on July 29 to secure the FWL Championship.
The Tangelos won the FWL, which is an off-shoot of the FCSL geared toward players who just graduated high school and are preparing for college baseball, after sweeping of their two playoff games and accumulating an 18-6-1 record in the regular season.
Jay Welsh, who served as the club’s head coach this summer, said his players locked in on the goal of winning the league early on in the season.
“From Day One, they bought in,” Welsh said. “They realized that team success meant individual success for a lot of them. There was such a noticeable difference between my team and, I believe, the other six teams in the league. They would do anything to win.”
During the championship game, which took place at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium, David Morland earned the win, and Ryan Ashworth got the save.
Welsh is a longtime travel and high-school baseball coach and, thanks to the local flair on the Tangelos’ roster, was coaching many players with whom he was familiar. More than a dozen of the team’s players had direct ties to the West Orange community, either listing Winter Garden, Ocoee or Windermere as a hometown or having played varsity baseball for one of the local programs.
“It was an awesome experience for me — four of the kids I had on my roster, I’ve had since they were 12 (years old),” Welsh said, adding he had coached 14 of his 23 players in some capacity in the past and had seen 19 of them play before. “I kind of knew going in what I had right away. You could see the camaraderie in the dugout.”
One of those players with local ties was Brandon Murray. Murray, a pitcher who began his collegiate career at USF and originally was playing for the Squeeze this summer, decided to go down to the Tangelos to get some extra reps in the batters’ box.
“Not only did he get some valuable reps in, but Brandon was somebody who was a Division I pitcher that still had that itch he had to scratch in terms of being a hitter,” Welsh said.
Murray’s strong performance has helped him find a new home for his college career, as he will suit up for the Rollins Tars in Winter Park this coming spring.
Welsh said his philosophy of having players cycle at-bats every other day — either hitting twice or four times in a given game — allowed all of the players on the roster to improve throughout the summer.
For more information on the Tangelos and the Futures Wood-bat League, visit fwlbaseball.com.