Koestler was WC’s best hitter, pitcher

Published 12:05 am Sunday, June 8, 2014

Warren Central's Carlisle Koestler, left, and Conner Douglas are the 2014 Vicksburg Post Baseball Player and Coach of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

Warren Central’s Carlisle Koestler, left, and Conner Douglas are the 2014 Vicksburg Post Baseball Player and Coach of the Year. (Justin Sellers/The Vicksburg Post)

During the first week of the season, Carlisle Koestler was Warren Central’s Captain Clutch.

The senior had two game-winning hits and another that led to the game-winning run in a span of five games. The drama lessened as the season went on, but Koestler’s dependability and consistency remained strong.

The senior shortstop and pitcher hit safely in 22 of 30 games and led the team with a .402 batting average. He also led the Vikings with 22 RBIs and tied for the lead with 33 hits.

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On the mound, he went 6-2 with a 1.57 ERA, two shutouts and 37 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings.

Koestler’s play helped the Vikings to their first 20-win season in eight years, and earned him the Vicksburg Post’s baseball Player of the Year award.

“It means a lot, because of all the hard work I’ve put in over the years. It feels good to pay off,” Koestler said.

Koestler transferred from St. Aloysius to Warren Central after his freshman year, and had to sit out the 2012 season.

The seeds of two strong seasons were planted during that off year, however. He was able to practice with his new team, but not play, and got a chance to see that the differences between Class 1A and 6A weren’t as great as he’d feared.

“It motivated me more and made me work a lot harder,” Koestler said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can play with these guys.’ Then over the summer I realized I could, and it helped me and motivated me.”

Koestler developed into WC’s top pitcher during his junior year. He went 8-2 with a 2.09 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 57 innings pitched. He also hit .318.

After playing quarterback for WC’s football team in the fall, Koestler returned to baseball in the spring and picked up where he left off.

He started the season with a seven-game hitting streak, with game-winning hits against Terry and Ridgeland. His double against Davidson (Ala.) led to the winning run in a 10-9 victory.

“He came up with a lot of big hits for us. He had several game-winning hits for us. He has a bright future. I think he’ll succeed both ways in college, hitting and on the mound,” WC coach Conner Douglas said.

On the mound, Koestler allowed one earned run in his first four starts. After he was roughed up in his next start against Clinton, Koestler threw five scoreless innings of relief against Ridgeland and a complete-game shutout against Brandon.

The Vikings lost in the play-in round of the Class 6A playoffs to Grenada, but Koestler helped keep them alive after a Game 1 defeat. On the road in Game 2, he allowed two runs in a complete-game victory as WC avoided elimination with a 7-2 win. Koestler also had a hit, an RBI and a run scored in Game 2.

“I really wasn’t that hot, but I thought I was consistent every game hitting and pitching,” Koestler said. “I was just trying to get on base every time and help the team out.”

Koestler added that he was happier with his hitting than his pitching. Although his pitching stats stayed about the same, his batting average increased 84 points from 2013 to 2014.

“I did a little better pitching, but my hitting was the big thing,” he said. “It was more experience from last year that helped me, and playing through the summer.”

The next step for Koestler is college baseball. He’s signed with Hinds Community College. Making the leap from high school to junior college is a big one, but he said it’s one he’s prepared for — and a path he feels like he’s already been down.

“I think it’s going to be the same as when I went from St. Al to Warren Central. It’s just a leap in talent all around you,” Koestler said. “I think I can do it if I work hard. It helps my confidence knowing that I can do it.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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