A paper is taped to the wall of the Wapahani High School baseball dugout. Part of it reads, “Am I hitting for myself or am I hitting for the team.”
For seniors Taylor McKee and Drew Brant, the motto hits home. McKee is the first batter in Wapahani’s lineup and Brant is second. They have two of the highest on-base percentages on the team and also have the most runs scored.
The process from getting a player from first base to home plate isn’t always an easy or pretty one.
“I knew my role was going to be, when McKee gets on, I have to move him over,” Brant said. “If I get out, that’s going to happen. As long as he scores in the end, I know I did my job well.”
All season, McKee has had a habit of getting on base, and Brant moves him into scoring position. McKee is batting .404 and has the speed to steal bases, with a team-high 26. Brant follows right behind with 15 steals, the pair combining to swipe well over half of the team’s stolen bases.
If McKee is on the basepath, Brant can’t be far behind. Together, they ignite Class 2A No. 1 Wapahani’s offense that has played a critical role in the team’s postseason success, now heading to Kokomo for a semistate matchup against perennial power No. 3 Lafayette Central Catholic today.
“Everybody likes getting RBIs, but if you’re on base and putting yourself in position to score, you’re helping the team,” McKee said. “And our speed allows us to create plays that might not be there for other teams.”
On the bottom of Brant’s red-billed baseball cap are a handful of reminders, written in black permanent marker. They range from “Never say die,” to “Sieze the moment,” “Your time to shine,” a few Bible verses, and the date his grandfather passed away. He tries to keep them in mind during each game, each catch, each sacrifice bunt.
He calls it an added bonus if he can get on base, which happens fairly often. He has a .434 on-base percentage, compared to McKee’s .472.
Their speed allows them to produce infield singles and beat out throws that normally would result in outs. Together, they make the 90 feet between each base seem far shorter and allow teammates Luke Snider and Austin White behind them in the order the chance to clear the bases and tack on runs for Wapahani.
But when both McKee and Brant are on base, who’s faster?
“I think I’m faster,” McKee said.
Brant agreed, but with one stipulation.
“From home plate to first base, I think I’ve got him,” Brant said, grinning.