May 10, 2019 – The Santa Fe Saints baseball team will face Florida Southwestern State College in the first round of the NJCAA Region VIII/FCSAA State Tournament at 4 p.m. in Lakeland. The Saints (37-15) return to national tournament qualifier for the 10th time in 13 years under Wiggs leadership and are presently ranked fourth in the Florida College System Activities Association coaches’ poll.
The Saints started the 2019 campaign by winning 13 of their first 14 games but the hit a stretch between Feb. 15 and March 16 when they were 7-10.
Head Coach Johnny Wiggs said that there were no players-only meetings or inspirational talks to turn things around, only a belief that if they kept working hard and believed in one another, things would be OK.
“Sometimes coaches choose to change things like practices or other routines to try to snap out of a bad stretch,” said Wiggs. “We just stayed focused on working on what we do best and pushed each other to get better.”
The Saints opened the Mid-Florida Conference season by losing five of their first six games before a 6-5 win over St. Johns River State College March 20 set the wheels back on track and headed in the right direction.
“I am very proud of this group and the way they kept working even after a tough 1-5 conference start,” said Wiggs. “They really finished strong going 17-4 after that.”
Pitching was the Saints forte throwing 10 shutouts including three no-hitters, one each by Anthony Arguelles, Brooks Walton and Connor Churchill. The team 3.23 ERA is sixth in the state.
“We were pretty good in all phases of the game,” said Wiggs. “We rank third in the state in batting average, sixth in ERA and sixth in fielding percentage.”
Sophomore Garrett Mathes leads the Saints with a .340 batting average, six home runs and is tied with Cade Westbrook with a team-high 41 runs batted in. Parker Biederer is hitting .335 with 16 stolen bases while former Gainesville High School standout Kyler Marquis is hitting .321 with 42 runs scored and a team-high 31 stolen bases.
UF signee Brock Edge is hitting .313 with a team-high 44 runs scored, four home runs and 36 RBI while Westbrook comes in with a 20-game hitting streak and a .310 batting average.
“We didn’t have any guys this year with crazy stats or numbers,” said Wiggs. “It is definitely a team that relies on everybody playing their role and a different guy or two stepping up and being the hero that particular day.”
Their first round opponent, FSW, enters play with an overall record of 40-12 ranked third in the state and 11th in the nation.