COACH OF THE YEAR
Everyone will, of course, remember that the Bears won the state Class D title with a win against Eastport on June 8. But it was on a cold (35 degrees) April afternoon when Schmitt, in his first year, put into motion the type of team that would become the first Class D team from Chautauqua County to win a state title.
In the opening inning against the defending champion Falconer Golden Falcons, Schmitt had his first baserunner, Chad Erwin, run against All-Star catcher Bob Schrader.
Erwin stole second on the first pitch and the Bears were off and running to a state title.
“We’ll keep running until the other team proves it can stop us,” Schmitt said repeatedly during the season.
No one could stop the Bears on the way to a 21-5 record.
Aggressive baseball remained Schmitt’s coaching style throughout the season.
“This team knew how to win,” said Schmitt, referring to last year’s team which advanced to the Far West Regionals.
“My job was to gain any edge I could for the team,” said Schmitt. “I wanted our runners to take an extra step off the bag, dive back and get dirty.”
That brand of baseball proved successful.
Schmitt’s team won the Division 2 title with a 13-1 record, repeated as sectional champs with a 4-1 win over Cattaraugus at Pilot Field, then defeated Groton 12-4 in the Far West Regionals at College Stadium.
At the state tournament, the Bears knocked off defending Class C champion Rennsselaer 3-1 in the morning semifinal game before winning it all against Eastport.
Schmitt’s personal experiences as coach and first baseman for the Jock Shop when they won the 10-Man Major Modified Softball National Championship in 1983 and 1984 helped when it came time to prepare the Bears for the state tournament.
Schmitt knew how to win, and he kept the Bears focused until they achieved their goal – winning a state title.