Westland Roundup: Cougars baseball team strives for winning mentality

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Westland’s Brenden Gordon prepares to scoop up a grounder during a 12-0 loss to visiting Gahanna on April 13 in the OCC-Ohio opener. Gordon has been one of the top pitchers for the Cougars this season.

Westland baseball coach Brent Shannon is attempting to instill a winning mentality in his program. 

Following a 4-0 loss at Central Crossing on April 6, Shannon tweeted: “I legit hate losing more than anything. Drives me absolutely nuts.” 

The Cougars responded by beating host Franklin Heights 5-3 on April 10 behind the pitching combination of Brenden Gordon and Franklin Ramirez Lara. Gordon went the first five innings, with Ramirez Lara pitching two perfect innings for the save. 

Brady Gray tripled and Gordon doubled to help Westland erase a 3-1 deficit in the fifth and tie the game. The Cougars then scored single runs in the sixth and seventh innings. 

“I’ve always been that way,” Shannon said of having a winning mentality. “Even as a kid growing up, I just hated losing. I’ve never been able to deal with losing. I’ve been around programs that don’t lose.

“This program is becoming a program that we don’t expect to lose. When I first took over, you could see some defeat in their eyes when we got down early. ... We’re learning how to be competitive.” 

Gordon said Shannon’s mentality is beginning to have an effect on the players. Shannon is in his second season leading the Cougars.

“We don’t want to ever give up,” Gordon said. “We hate losing as much (as Shannon). We know we’re a talented team and sometimes we just don’t come prepared.” 

Westland opened OCC-Ohio Division play with a five-inning 12-0 loss to Gahanna on April 13. The Cougars were 5-3 overall and 0-1 in the league before playing the Lions on April 14. 

The Cougars’ other league opponents are Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North and Westerville Central. 

“There’s no cakewalk in this league,” Shannon said. “These teams are all good, but with (Gordon and Ramirez Lara on the mound), we’ll be competitive with whoever is on our schedule. I think we’ll be fine. We’ll be competitive. All I ask is be competitive. When you play in close games good things happen.” 

Gordon is looking forward to the challenge of the league schedule. 

“I feel like we can hold our own,” he said. “If we come out and we play like we can, we have all the talent needed. We just have to put it all together and come out ready to go.” 

Through seven games, Gordon was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 37 strikeouts and eight walks in 19 1/3 innings. Ramirez Lara was 1-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 21 strikeouts and three walks in 13 1/3 innings. 

Samuel Schneider was batting a team-high .409, while Gray and Drew Curtiss were next at .333. 

Softball coach likes

squad’s progress 

Softball coach Sarah Shellenbarger has been pleased with her team’s development in the early stages of the season. 

The Cougars were 2-6 before playing Groveport on April 14. They opened OCC-Ohio play April 15 against Gahanna. 

Westland beat Marion Harding 15-1 in five innings in the first game of a doubleheader April 3 and defeated Whetstone 8-6 on April 10. 

“I’m very pleased with the team’s growth since Feb. 22,” Shellenbarger said. “They are continuously working hard and are putting in the effort daily, and it’s starting to translate on the field. Kayla Miller and Melina Morley, our pitching and catching duo, are really solid for us. I’m proud of our captains and upperclassmen leaders that contribute to our growth on and off the field.” 

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank