2020 Humboldt Baseball: final look back

By: Donovan W. Mann – donovanm@977thebolt.com

Humboldt, IA – Pitching was a strength, defense was reliable and the bats never truly got going in looking back at the Humboldt High School 2020 baseball season.

The season for Humboldt High School baseball came to a close in the district semi-finals at the hand of Gilbert (who finished state runner-up). The Wildcats finished the season with a 10-7 record and second in the North Central Conference with a 4-1 record. In one last look at the season with Head Coach Jason Thurm, analyzing the key areas in both statistically and beyond the numbers.

Pitching:

Going into the season Coach Thurm said that pitching was going to be a real strength of the Wildcats. Humboldt used a total of six pitchers this season, two of which started 12 of their 17 games. By the numbers Humboldt was solid as a pitching staff.

Compared to the rest of the NCC, Humboldt pitched the most innings at 117. As a team they walked the fewest batters (31) and Coach Thurm confirms that their average of .26 walks per inning pitch was a school record low. The teams ERA of 2.69 was fourth in the NCC and their WHIP of 1.33 ranks second. The Wildcats did give up the most base hits as a team in the NCC and opponent batting average against (.256) was fourth in the conference.

Beyond the number, Coach Thurm says he was pleased with how his guys performed on the mound. He says the ability to pound the strike zone had them, in his book, as one of the best pitching staffs in the NCC. He also says the off season work his young pitchers put in is key to their success.

Hear coach’s thoughts:

Defense:

Another strength Head Coach Thurm promised going into the season would be the defense. He maintains this opinion, calling his defense solid in his post season interview. He recognizes, that with every high school team, there were up and down nights.

Using the NCC as a reference point again the Wildcats had the most defensive chances at 534. They recorded the most put outs at 351 and tied for the most errors with 47. Their fielding percentage of .912 was fifth.

When addressing some of the numbers Coach Thurm says it can be misleading at times. He says that errors will happen and sometimes they can be more of a result of a bad hops the ball takes than a bad play by the defense. He continues and says he’d put his team on the field with anyone and commends his teams effort all season. He also says that there were a few younger players getting key starts this season and errors are part of the growing pains as a team.

Hear coach’s thoughts:

Hitting/Base running:

In preseason Coach Thurm warned that hitting might be a weak point for Humboldt this season. Offensively the 2020 season was a struggle for Humboldt but they always managed to find runs and win games (10-7 doesn’t happen by luck).

Numbers wise the Wildcats would finish with the lowest batting average in the North Central Conference at .195. The team did lead the conference with 7 home runs and their 69 RBIs were a tie for second in the NCC. The Wildcats also lead the conference in walks (85) and being hit by pitches (35). As base runners they stole 54 bases, good for third in the conference and scored the fifth most runs with 80.

Coach Thurm calls batting average an outdated stat. He does recognize that it does tell a story however. As a team the Wildcats measure their at bats in terms of quality. Any time a batter gets aboard (hit, walk or hit by pitch) it is considered a quality at bat. Other ways the team measure the quality is if they advance runners, go six or more pitches without striking out and if they score a runner.

Hear coach’s thoughts:

Final overview:

The Humboldt High School Wildcat Baseball team finished with a 10-7 recorded on the season. They showed resiliency in many games throughout the season and found ways to win and win consistently, especially in the NCC.

Coach Thurm refers to the 2020 season as a gift. When you put things into perspective with the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunity to play is something he and the team will always be grateful for. He says when as late April and early May rolled through there was severe doubt the season would happen.

The Wildcats also had four players get All-NCC honors. This includes two first team selection in Jacob Thurm (pitcher) and Cade Witzke (DH/utility). Infielder Caden Matson was named to the second team and catcher Colby Clarken was named third team all-conference honors.

Coach Thurm finishes by saying he’s excited for the 2021 season, expects strong competition in the NCC again and assures the Wildcats will be ready for a full season of work.