Edwardsville first basemen has record breaking 3 home run game against Granite City.
Edwardsville junior first basemen Drake Westcott broke out with an early season performance on Tuesday, erupting for three home runs and six RBIs against Granite City.
Westcott, who has struggled at the plate early this season, attributed the success to working with head coach Tim Funkhouser.
"Me and Coach Funkhouser have been working on my approach, and staying behind the ball, and just not jumping out in front of pitches," Westcott said. "Tuesday, it kind of all clicked together. I was just putting good swings together and seeing the ball well, and was just staying patient within myself."
Westcott, who began playing baseball at age 5 said, "my Dad's thing was always football, but my mom wouldn't let me play football, so that's how the baseball thing took off there. I always played baseball and nothing else, so baseball has always been my thing."
Family certainly is a big help for the Edwardsville junior, who spends his summers playing with the St. Louis Pirates travel team.
Westcott said, "They go out and they work hard, and they give me every single opportunity I can ask for. I can't be more grateful and thankful for what they do for me. I mean honestly, if I didn't have them behind me and supporting me, and pushing me to be the best I possibly can be, I wouldn't be the player or the person I am today."
Westcott realized the pressure that comes along with playing baseball at a traditional large-school powerhouse like Edwardsville. The Tigers have won two state championships (they also have three second-place finishes) and annually are ranked among the top programs in the state.
"I've grown up around here so that's kind of how I have always known it," Westcott said. "I love it. Go out there compete everyday. It's fun."
He points to tremendous fan support as another positive of a big school like Edwardsville. "At home games we get a lot of people.... we have a whole bunch of student fans, and parents. I mean almost every game it's packed."
For many high school playerss, that would seem like a lot of pressure. However, this kind of pressure is certainly something Westcott, the Louisville baseball commit, is not unaccustomed too. Being recruited early in freshmen year by schools such as Alabama, Ole Miss, and Purdue among others, he has been in many high-pressure situations in both high school and travel ball.
In his freshman year at Edwarsville, Westcott hit .349 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs. As a sophomore last year, Westcott compiled a .510 batting average, along with 7 home runs and 34 RBIs for the Tigers. When asked about his expectations for this season, Westcott - who lost 20 pounds over the summer in preparation for this season - simply said, "I'm just going to go out there and keep doing what I am doing, what I did last year, and seeing the ball, hitting the ball, doing everything I can to help the team win so we can go really far this season."
Edwardsville baseball, ranked No. 7 in the state preseason poll by PBR Illinois, certainly has some high expectations, but Westcott believes there's something more special about this team than just on the field talent. "In the off season, before practice or anything even started, everyone was going to weight training, and the team every week, we would have the whole entire team going to someone's house to hang out for team dinners. We would just bond I guess", he said. "The team this year is just really together. Everybody is cool together, the team is just really jelling together. It's really good."
When asked about who has helped his development the most, Westcott pointed to head coach Tim Funkhouser.
"He's spent so much time with me since I was a freshman. We did individual hitting and fielding classes and he was always pushing me to get the best out of myself. He's just always there, making sure that I'm on track and getting me to improve my game."
When asked if he circles any game on the schedule above others Westcott said, "Not really. We are just going to show up to the field and just put it on whoever we play. That's just kind of the mindset we all have, we are just going to show up, play hard, and beat everybody."
The Tigers are scheduled to play Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin at 4:30 p.m. Friday and will face Hillsboro at Busch Stadium in a 4:45 p.m. game Saturday at Busch Stadium.