In his first two years playing baseball for Edwardsville, slugger Drake Westcott hit .435 and .510 with 19 home runs and 73 RBI while leading the Tigers to 60 wins and a second-place finish at the state tournament.
This year, Westcott wanted more.
“As a player you can always improve in all aspects of the game,” Westcott said recently. “Last year I worked hard in the weight room to get stronger and to improve my agility, defense and speed. I feel like I improved in those areas this season but I still have to keep working to improve in all areas of the game.”
Voted as the Belleville News-Democrat Class 3A-4A Player of the Year, Westcott’s hard work paid huge dividends for the Tigers in 2019. Despite missing nine games during the regular season because of injury, he still finished the season with a .380 batting average, nine homers and 39 RBI.
More importantly, Westcott’s play was vital to the Tigers postseason run that ended with Edwardsville’s third state championship. trophy. Westcott had a stolen base and score a crucial run in the Tigers’ 3-2 win over St. Charles North in the title game.
“That was the goal and we worked hard as a team to achieve it,” Westcott said. “It was a great season and for most of us we’ve been playing baseball together for several years. So to be able to win a state title with friends you’ve grown up with makes it even more special.”
The win in the state championship game was also victory No. 700 for longtime Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser, who, in his 21 years, has seen many talented players come through the program.
Count Westcott in that list — and he still has one more season to go.
“Drake played a significant role in our lineup for his third season, but particularly in the postseason when he was locked in,” Funkhouser said.
Westcott managed to dominate despite other teams pitching around him. In 125 official at bats in 2019, Westcott reached base 66 times — 36 times on a walk.
“I’ve worked hard on being more patient at the plate and when I’m walked it gives our team another chance to score,” Wetscott said. “We have a lot of good hitters on this team and when I’m on it gives them the chance to drive in runs. We had a lot of players who came up with big hits all season.”
Edwardsville slugger is a tough out
Now a three-time Class 4A Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state selection, Westcott has been a tough out for coaches and pitchers in the Southwestern Conference during the past three years.
Belleville East coach Ryan Wiggs said that there are not a lot of weaknesses in Westcott’s swing.
“Drake is a very difficult guy to get out,” he said. “Our approach is always to try to mix up speeds and locations, but it’s tough because he covers the plate so we’ll and can hit all pitches with power. In addition, he can hit the ball to left field with just as much power as he does to right field,” Wiggs said.
“He is definitely one of the top hitters I’ve seen in my tenure as a head coach. As a coach, you always try to find holes in players swings and take advantage of them. It’s difficult, at times, to find that with Westcott.”
About the only thing that could slow down the 6-3 215-pound Westcott this year was the quad injury that cost him nine games.
“It was very tough to sit out and not be able to help my team,” Westcott said. “All I could do was rest, go through rehab and let it heal. I was just glad I was able to help later in the year and in the postseason.”
Westcott has committed to play college baseball with the Louisville Cardinals beginning with the 2020-2021 season.