(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Missouri Western baseball is back into the NCAA Regionals for the second time since 2006 with the school's first MIAA regular season title.
The team's recent success is catching the eyes of former players.
When Missouri Western alumni watch the 2013 Griffons, it's like stepping back in time.
"They're a very similar type of team," former Western pitcher Greg Kastner said. "They pitch well, they hit well, they field well, and those are the same things that led us to the success we had back in the early days."
The current success has led to a record-breaking season with 40 victories, snapping the old mark of 37 set in 1974. Many individual milestones are also falling including runs scored (Michael Schulze has 70 so far), hits in a season (Schulze with 94 and counting) and even RBI in a season (Kyle Simpson is up to 60 and Bubba Dotson has 59 so far) which was previously held by Benton High School baseball coach Mike Musser.
"I think this year has been the year that they've really put their name on the map," Musser said. "People know who they are."
"You break records like that means you're going to have success," Kastner said. "And when you have success that's great for the Missouri Western program."
Not all of the milestones have been passed, though.
Musser still sits in first in career home runs at 24, and Kastner is tops in fewest runs allowed for a season and second in strikeouts all-time.
Even after decades passed since the two Missouri Western Hall of Famers have played in black and gold, they still have a competitive side that comes out when discussing which one was better.
"We've always talked about it. He couldn't hit me," Kastner said. "There is no way that he would ever hit me."
"I'd probably bunt for a hit off of him because of my speed," Musser said with a smile. "I could get to first before he could get to the ball."
But Western's original coach, Doug Minnis, has a different opinion on who he would take.
"(Brandon) Simmons. I don't think anybody's better than he is," Minnis said referring to the program's all-time wins leader Brandon Simmons. "I would have liked to have him. I would have pitched him every other game."
No matter who the best Griffon is, they're all on the same side once Missouri Western hits the diamond in Minnesota.
"I would like to see them go for the championship," Minnis said. "Buzz has done a good job for these years that he's been here, and I felt like we did a good job when I was here. So I think it's time for them to really open up and get it going."
"I hope they make it," Kastner said. "And I hope that any records that we've had are broken...maybe."
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