WINTER GARDEN With just two weeks left to play on the schedule for the Florida Collegiate Summer League, the Winter Garden Squeeze are back above .500 at 15-14 and are winners of their past three games — highlighted by a 10-0 thumping of Altamonte Springs July 14 in the team's most recent contest.
That success, after a rough stretch ahead of last week's FCSL All-Star break, has the Squeeze just a half-game behind DeLand (16-14) for second-place. Winter Garden has won four of its past five games entering a pair of games against Leesburg (12-18) July 19-20.
“We’ve been streaky up to this point — we got out of the gate real good and then we dropped six in a row,” Squeeze manager Jay Welsh said, reflecting on the first half of the season. “I like where we are heading into the stretch run here. We’re finally figuring out who’s doing what well.”
Welsh pointed to pitching and fielding as two areas where the team has struggled, but noted the number of errors has gone down of late.
The first-year coach also acknowledged that he has had to contend with his own learning-curve this season, coaching in the FCSL for the first time after leading the Winter Garden Tangelos — the Squeeze’s Futures Wood-bat League affiliate — to a championship last summer.
“I really think it’s night and day … this is well above what I ever anticipated,” Welsh said of the difference between the two leagues. “I think that’s so from the aspect of the hitting — the hitters that I’ve seen this year, what they’ve done with the wood bats … it’s been eye-opening. These guys can swing it.”
After the pair of games against Leesburg, Winter Garden will likely get a chance to claim second place, outright, as the Squeeze will square off against DeLand in a three-game series July 21-23.
The games scheduled for Thursday and Saturday will be on the road in DeLand while Friday's game will take place at West Orange High's Heller Bros. Ballpark — all three contests are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].