When the Wilton Beavers needed somebody to provide a spark, Collin McCrabb was there to provide it.
The Wilton senior stepped to the plate during Wilton’s Class 2A district game against Mediapolis with two on and two out and the top-ranked Beavers clinging to a 1-0 lead. There was a bit of an uncomfortable, tense feeling in the air. Although the Beavers were leading on the scoreboard, it was a bit of a struggle to get there.
That’s when McCrabb drew a walk, threw his bat down and yelled towards the Wilton dugout, waving his arms up and down before he sprinted to first as if he was trying to beat out an infield grounder.
“I like getting a walk just as much as I like getting a base hit,” McCrabb said. “Just helping my team out however I can, I was just happy to get on base whenever I could.”
It was McCrabb’s third walk of the night. But he used it as an opportunity to cut through the tense feeling that sat over the game like a big, dark rain cloud. That didn’t stop McCrabb from playing with his emotions on his sleeve, wanting to put the joy back in the game.
And when teammate Jared Townsend followed up the walk with a three-run double, paving the way for the Beavers to cruise to a 4-0 win, the dark cloud lifting and baseball seemed fun again for Wilton.
That was the case throughout the season as the top-ranked Beavers dealt with expectations and playing with a target on their backs.
“It helped playing with your best friends your whole life,” said McCrabb, who will continue to play at the collegiate level at North Iowa Area Community College.
But McCrabb, whose season accomplishments included being selected to the Class 2A all-state first-team and Class 2A Southeast All-District team, always filled in the gaps, whether it was drawing a walk, an extra-base hit or just having fun when the team needed fun the most.
“Each year that he’s played (Collin) has gotten better and better. When he gets the ball on the mound he’s a competitor, he goes after hitters and attacks them,” Wilton head coach Jake Souhrada said. “And there was huge growth at the plate. He’s confident. He goes up there with the approach that he’s going to destroy a baseball.
“The sky is the limit for him (in college) and beyond.”
This season's senior class for the Beavers represented something special. A group that came up together and saw success at every level; a group that gave the school and community a baseball team to rally around that, when at its best, had limitless potential. Just as McCrabb did as an individual.
“This is a very strong senior class in multiple sports,” said Souhrada. “It’s a group that’s won three conference titles for us in four years, three district titles and (went) to the state tournament. It’s just phenomenal what they’ve done for the baseball program at Wilton and other sports.”
At the plate, McCrabb was a jack of all trades. Plate vision and discipline? McCrabb drew 20 walks. Speed? He had 10 stolen bases in as many tries and scored 31 runs, tied for most on the team.
“I was looking for my pitch no matter what,” said McCrabb. “Most of the time, I’m looking for a pitch I can drive into the gaps. If I didn’t get that pitch, I was going to take it and I got on base quite a bit (and) when I did get my pitch I was able to take advantage of it.”
Hit for power and for contact? Check and check. McCrabb ended the season with a team-high .476 batting average and .566 on-base percentage. The senior also led the Beavers in slugging percentage (.976), home runs (nine), hits (40), doubles (15) and was second in RBIs with 31.
Still, McCrabb wishes he could have done more in his senior season, especially on the mound. But an early-season shoulder strain muted his pitching ability.
"Unfortunately I couldn't pitch as much this year," said McCrabb, "but I've gotten work in on that."
There isn't much on a baseball field Wilton's Collin McCrabb can't do. The Beavers put that to the test this year. And McCrabb just kept getting better.
“Wherever we put him, he succeeds,” Souhrada said. “He played multiple positions for us this year - first base, third base, shortstop, second base, right field, pitched - he’s a guy that’s obviously going to be tough to replace because he’s very malleable.”
"The more I can do, the more that helps my team," McCabb said, "the more I can do for the team the better."