Long-distance runners sometimes train double the mileage before racing in a marathon. Weightlifters work with heavier weights or take more reps to prepare for a meet or to gain strength.
What the Windsor High baseball team did in breaking a 41-year championship drought wasn’t all that different in application.
The Yellowjackets looked like anything but champions in stumbling out of the gate with two wins in their first seven contests, but there was a method involved. Windsor loaded its early schedule with good Division I competition, so when the Jacks left Centennial Field with a 10-3 defeat of Randolph on June 11 in the Vermont Division III championship game, they did so because of the heavy lifting done in April and early May.
“All year, we said we had the stuff to do it,” senior pitcher Nick Kapuscinski said after the victory. “We ended up with a couple of good bounces and we played a tough schedule, and it ended up preparing us for this. This is what we wanted all along.”
Not only did Windsor (12-8) play D-I competition early, the Jacks played good D-I competition early in Brattleboro, Hartford, Burr & Burton and Rutland. BBA would eventually reach the state D-I finals, and the Hurricanes ended up semifinalists.
The Vermont Principals Association’s point-rating system gave Windsor credit for the stronger schedule, and that also helped the Jacks in the end. Even with a .500 regular-season record, the Yellowjackets were good enough to gain the D-III tournament’s fifth seed, leaving them well-suited for a deep run against teams whose ratings weren’t all that much better against weaker foes.
“This team, we love each other; we’re a family,” sophomore pitcher Seth Balch said. “We said this since day one. So to get this win with these guys is unbelievable.”
Second-year head coach Jamie Richardson relied largely on Kapuscinski and Balch to pitch Windsor to its title; on championship day, he called on both. Kapuscinski slowed down Randolph with his array of off-speed offerings, to which Balch added velocity over the game’s second half.
The early-season matchups also helped Windsor’s offense, which slapped out 12 hits on championship day. A six-run fourth inning blew the game open and eventually sent the Jacks to their first VPA baseball title of any kind since the 1975 Division I crown.
“When you have good pitching, you’re going to go a long ways,” Richardson said. “We’ve got two guys that, in my opinion, are probably the two best in Division III, maybe top five, six, top 10 in Division II. That’s the reason why: They keep us in games, they keep runs off the board and we can manufacture a few.”
The title also provided emotional punctuation for the Jacks, who lost program patriarch Leon Royce at the age of 91 at the beginning of the year. They remembered Royce by slapping an eagle, the former coach’s nickname, on their shirts to honor his memory.
A championship after 41 years of waiting couldn’t have been a more appropriate finish to a successful, workmanlike campaign.