Woodland Park’s baseball season came to a close May 7 on a chilly, damp afternoon in Elizabeth with a 16-1 loss to the Cardinals. After the game, Panthers players hugged each other and shed a few tears during an emotional farewell.
“I haven’t had this type of a close-knit group of guys with other teams, quite this much,” said Woodland Park coach Neil Levy. “This is probably the best group of kids I’ve had in my four years here. They get along well and they work hard.
“If I had this team together through this summer and next year, we could really compete with everybody.”
The Panthers ended their season at 9-14 overall, 4-4 in the Class 4A Metro League. Prior to the Elizabeth game, Levy announced that he was stepping down as coach after four seasons.
“I’m going to miss the kids,” said Levy, who was named the Metro League coach of the year during its annual meeting. “It’s been a good run. It’s been a fun four years. It’s been a great opportunity for me to do what I want to do.”
Under Levy, the Panthers were a combined 40-40, 22-16 in league play.
There were several highlights this spring for the team that hails from the City Above the Clouds. After starting 1-6, including losing four in Arizona, the Panthers won five of six to inch closer to the .500 mark. The strong stretch began with a wild 10-8 victory over rival Manitou Springs.
Levy said Woodland Park’s biggest victory of the season was over The Classical Academy — the league champs — on April 30. The Panthers achieved an 11-5 win at TCA as sophomore Cameron Chase paced the 11-hit attack with a double and two singles. He also walked and scored two runs. Senior Caleb Elliott added two RBIs.
“That day, we were ready to play and it all came together,” said senior infielder/pitcher Lou Levy. “We made every play we needed to make.”
Weather, primarily snow and cold, again played a factor in the Panthers’ ability to practice or play outside on their own turf on a regular basis. Only six of their 23 games were played at Meadow Wood Park.
Woodland Park batted a respectable .301 as a team. Six regulars topped the .300 mark: Sophomore Matthew Lecky (.424), Chase (.377), junior Joey Babin (.368), Lou Levy (.362), senior Michael Shrum (.348) and senior Julian Vega (.304).
Chase led the team in extra-base hits (11) and RBIs (19).
Levy was also the team’s top pitcher. He compiled a 3-3 record with a 4.81 ERA. Chase and Lecky each had two wins while towing the rubber.
Levy and Shrum were named first-team all-league, while Babin and Lecky were named to the second team. Chase received honorable mention.
Woodland Park will have a summer program as it prepares for the 2020 season. Only four seniors graduated from this year’s team: Levy, Shrum, Vega and Caleb Elliott.
“We have some guys coming back who can fill some roles the seniors had and keep getting better,” Lou Levy said. “They have some great potential.”