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Chatham Earns Playoff Berth Despite Difficult Season

08/04/2009 10:49 AM

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4 August 2009

Chatham Earns Playoff Berth Despite Difficult Season
By Ashley Crosby, CCBL Intern

CHATHAM, Mass.—The team that was under .500 going into Monday night’s game against Harwich managed to win themselves a spot in the 2009 Cape League playoffs. Chatham’s strength on the field and experienced management helped them through the slump, and they pick up the pace just in time to give Orleans and Y-D a run for the East Division spot in the championship. 

     “I think a lot of [the players] have done very well,” said field manager John Schiffner, who has been with the team for 17 years. “I think some have learned a lot of lessons, [including] preparation, needing to come to the field prepared, mentally as well as physically every night because that’s what the pro schedule is going to be like.”

     That mentality helped them take back the lead over Harwich after being down 2-0 in the fourth inning in a key game of their season. 

     “You can just tell the way that some guys carry themselves,” said Schiffner, “how they work on the field, how they address themselves at the plate. I think a number of them have done some really good things.”

     Their statistics do not necessarily tell the entire story for the Chatham Anglers. Schiffner feels all his players have contributed more than their numbers show. 

     “A number of guys are just mired in a tough slump,” Schiffner said. “Brian Harris (Vanderbilt) has had a tough year offensively but he’s one of our leaders. Whit Merrifield (South Carolina) would probably love be 20 points higher with batting average, but he’s had a tremendous summer as far as I’m concerned. He’s done a lot of things, played the outfield well, run the bases well.”

     “I think the way the guys have been playing, the way they played through some adversity—we’ve had the 30 man roster, which means a lot of the guys wouldn’t be playing as much as they’d hoped to, and now we’ve got some injuries—the guys have done a really good job overcoming some of that,” Schiffner continued. “Guys are coming out and stepping up late. Parker Bangs (South Carolina) is swinging the bat, because he’s getting more at bats, little things like that.”

     Harris is sitting on a .211 batting average, Merrifield at .257, and Bangs at .163. Right-hander Bangs, who also pitches, is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA. Making the most of what they have to work with and stepping up to the plate throughout the season makes Chatham an underrated team going into the playoffs this year, gaining the newly created third playoff spot in the East Division. Their hard work might just be enough to unseat Orleans and Y-D. 

     “This is a good time to get hot,” said Schiffner.

Ashley Crosby can be reached at [email protected]

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Interns: Chris Blake, James Chandley, Ashley Crosby, Phil Garceau, Michael Campbell, Katy Ann Fitzpatrick