Things are going well for the Navarre Raiders baseball team, and the success has come with impeccable timing.
With District 1-7A tournament play starting April 20, the Raiders have built a seven-game win streak, which most recently featured a 3-0 win over Fort Walton Beach Thursday.
Pitcher Matt Cronin issued another outstanding effort and with 15 strikeouts reached 105 total strikeouts on the season.
According to MaxPreps.com, the junior now leads Florida in total strikeouts and averages 2.14 per inning.
“He’s been a good one,” said Navarre coach Scott Murphy, who has coached baseball for 32 years. “He usually gives us two strikeouts an inning. Our defenders have to focus extra when he’s on the mound and expect the hit. Cronin has a plan for what he wants to do on the mound and goes with it. He’s been a joy to watch.”
Cronin, who verbally committed to play at the University of Arkansas, described his typical plan of action while on the mound.
“I have a fastball that I think I can spot pretty well,” Cronin said. “I like to use a slurve, or sliding curveball, in the middle of the count as a set up pitch. Then I use a 12-6 curve ball.”
Cronin’s pitching, which yielded 18 strikeouts in the season opener against Gulf Breeze, has kept the Raiders on track all year. He’s reached double digits in strikeouts in six of his eight starts.
His play has been imperative for a young team which returned just four varsity players from last season.
“I tell the guys … its not about how we start, its about how we finish the season,” Murphy said. “This year was gonna take a while for these young men to believe. They’ve worked hard all year. This is the time of the year where it counts.”
In addition to adding to Navarre’s current win streak, the Raiders gained an additional boost by besting Fort Walton Beach, the team Murphy believes Navarre will face in the first round of the District 1-7A tournament.
“We’ve got 18 guys on this team,” Murphy said. “We can start any one of them out there. I don’t have a rhyme or reason for who I start. Everybody knows that they have a chance of playing in each game. We played 15 guys tonight and they all produced down the line.”
And for Cronin, he’s been enjoying the ride alongside his teammates.
“I thought it was gonna be a tough night when I gave up that double in the first inning,” Cronin said. “It just feels good to be where we are at as a team right now. I think I have the best teammates around. Just a bunch of fun kids to play baseball with.”
Navarre 3, Fort Walton Beach 0
FWB…000 000 0 — 0 2 0
NVR…030 000 X — 3 6 0
WP: Matt Cronin (7IP, 2H 15K). LP: Jared Dunn (3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 3K).
FWB hitters — Johnny Livingston 1-3, Joe Guidry 1-3.
Navarre hitters — Michael Sandle 1-3, R, RBI, BB; Cade Taylor 1-3, 2 RBI.