Westminster Wildcats

WESTMINSTER WILDCATS

2012: 29-4, Missouri Class 3 champions

Coach: Rich Van Gilst

Key returnees: Ben Lovell (sr., LHP), Shane Benes (jr., SS), Brett Bond (jr., C), Davis Vanderslice (sr., LHP), Ben Mitchell (sr., 1B-RHP), Jordan Smith (jr., OF-RHP), Bryce Bell (sr., INF)

Notes: Westminster has won two straight Missouri Class 3 championships, but moves up to Class 4 after the state expanded to five classes. … The Wildcats suffered some key losses to graduation. Tate Matheny was a three-time first-team All-Metro selection and was the player of the year last season after hitting .610 with 32 extra-base hits, 51 RBI, 60 runs and a .705 on-base percentage. Luke Turner was a four-year starter at third base. … Westminster returns three Division I recruits in Lovell, Benes and Bond. Lovell signed with Belmont, while Benes and Bond both made early verbal commitments to Missouri. … Lovell was a first-team All-Metro selection as a junior after he went 10-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 56 innings. He was 20-1 over his sophomore and junior seasons. … Benes, the son of former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Andy Benes, batted .364 with 12 doubles, three triples, two homers and 49 RBI. Bond, a switch-hitter, hit .300 with 10 extra-base hits and 21 RBI. … Vanderslice (8-0, 1.05 ERA, 53 1/3 innings) and Mitchell (4-1, 1 save, 2.10 ERA, 30 innings) give Van Gilst two more experienced arms. … Smith, Luke Matheny (so., RHP) and Brennan Hehner (jr., RHP-1B) also are expected to contribute on the mound. … Smith (.386, 27 runs, .463 OBP), Mitchell (.357, 8 extra-base hits, 10 RBI, 12 runs) and Bell (.327, 14 RBI, 25 runs) contributed to the lineup a year ago and should be bigger factors this season.