WESLEY CHAPEL — It wasn't too long ago that Wesley Chapel was one of the bottom dwellers among North Suncoast baseball teams. But four years ago Chuck Yingling took over the program with the aim of changing the perception that Wesley Chapel was merely a football and basketball school.
The foundation was laid in the 2006-07 season when the Wildcats finished 10-15 and reached the Class 4A playoffs. Yingling credits the players for buying into a new system and helping build the program to where it is today — riding a 15-0 start.
The core of the team is its seven seniors, including pitchers Brandon Mumaw and Matt Wynne.
"It's been a great change in philosophy," Yingling said. "We were always very fortunate that when we first got here that everyone bought into what we were doing. …
"But people know coming in, they know where we stand and they see the success that we have had, especially the past two years. And I think it's great that these seniors have worked very hard on their skills."
Wesley Chapel's senior aces lead a pitching staff that has allowed only 28 runs. Mumaw, who has committed to Saint Leo University and is 6-0 with a 1.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts, is more of a location pitcher. At 5-foot-8, he doesn't dominate batters with fastballs but has a knack for keeping hitters off balance.
"I'm definitely not an overpowering pitcher so I really have to study my opponents and keep batters guessing," Mumaw said. "I always try to remember when I face a hitter, what I threw to him the last time and what worked.
"Preparation and technique are big factors, and Coach Yingling and my dad have really helped me with all that the past four years."
Wynne (4-0, 0.64 ERA, 30 strikeouts) uses a lot of fastballs and at 6-3, 200 pounds brings an intimidation factor to the mound. Yingling has tabbed his fireballer as more of a closer.
In three innings at last week's Pasco County Spring Varsity tournament, Wynne allowed only one hit in games against Land O'Lakes and tournament runnerup Wiregrass Ranch.
"He's been most valuable as a closer for us," Yingling said. "He's a luxury to have on the pitching staff, knowing we can throw him out that late in a game and he can get the job done."
One thing is missing from the senior class' resume: a trip to the final four.
"The younger guys really do look up to guys like me and Matt, knowing that we have been through it all," Mumaw said. "I'll be heading over to the bullpen to throw and the younger catchers always say they want to catch for me. It's just been a great time this season, but we want to finish off strong and get to states."