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Spurlin brothers work hard on the diamond

Posted: April 21, 2014 10:27 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2014 10:27 p.m.

Cade, left, and Jake Spurlin have been instrumental to West Ranch's success so far this season. Cade, a sophomore, is the team's starting catcher and Jake, a senior, has been one of the most consistent bats for the Wildcats

 

If you rolled brothers Jake and Cade Spurlin into one baseball player, the end result would be about as complete of a player as you could ask for.

They’re pretty good individually as well.

The brothers play at West Ranch High and have been big contributors to the Wildcats’ success so far this season.

Jake, a senior, is the more offensive-minded of the two. He is currently batting .442, third best in the Foothill League, for the Wildcats with 10 RBIs and has only struck out four times through 18 games this season.

While sophomore Cade is batting a respectable .300 with six RBIs, he is more concerned with his defense. He’s been the Wildcats’ starting catcher and has committed only two errors this season. He is also second on the team with 71 putouts.

“Jake has been our most dependable bat all season,” says West Ranch coach Casey Burrill. “He’s been spraying the ball all over the yard.”

“And Cade’s been a warrior behind the plate. Blocking balls in the dirt, throwing guys out at second. He’s been a real bulldog for us. Plus he’s provided a lot more offense than we thought we were going to get from him.”

Jake was West Ranch’s starting catcher last year but moved to right field this season to allow his brother to take over behind the plate.

For Cade, the transition took a little getting used to, but he acclimated quickly.

“At first it was weird because I felt like it was his spot,” Cade says. “But I’ve been the better defensive player and he’s a better hitter so it worked out. He was like ‘Here you go, have fun’ and that was pretty much it.”

Jake was fine giving up his catching spot. It was playing with his brother that was the biggest change.

“It was a little weird at first because he’s my little brother,” Jake said. “It’s different playing with him. Just seeing him grow up from the little guy he was to where he is now. I got used to it though and I think he’s playing well.”

As different as their approaches to the game are, the Spurlin brothers can agree on one thing — constant practice is key to keeping their starting spots.

That means after games, practices and even on days off, the Spurlin boys are in the cages at West Ranch honing their craft.

And their father, Brent, is there every step of the way.

“Sunday before we went to grandma’s for Easter, we were in the cages practicing,” Brent says. “Since they were little we would do a lot of hitting. I always told them that if you hit, then the team will find a spot for you. And the higher they got, the more I figured they would have to ramp up their practicing. If they didn’t hit, someone would take their spot.”

Brent Spurlin was a quarterback at Hart High before transferring to Granada Hills after his junior year in 1985.

Whether it be a football or a baseball, Brent has the arm stamina to throw until both his boys have gotten their work in.

“They’ll hit 75-100 balls off the tee to start, and then we’ll go live,” Brent says. “We have a trash can full of balls and I’ll throw until we hit the bottom of the thing and then start over for the next guy.”

During their cage sessions, the Spurlins like to focus on making sure their fundamentals are strong. Keeping their hands back, staying up the middle through their swing and being able to hit to all fields are some of the things they work on.

That determination and attention to detail is what Burrill hopes will rub off on the rest of his team.

“All the boys in the program see the work they put in and how it pays off and I think they put two and two together,” he said. “They’re just a family of baseball rats. They’ll work in any batting cage they could find. Everything gets broken down. They have great discussions about mechanics and what pitches to look for in certain counts. It’s great.”

They may prioritize differently, but both Jake and Cade know their father’s favorite saying is true.

“100 swings a day keeps the bench away.”

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