White County’s Brett Westmoreland knows the onslaught of home runs can’t last forever, but he’s going to enjoy it while he can.
The Warriors’ big, powerful first baseman and designated hitter has made a name for himself in the second half of the regular season, hitting towering shots that sail over the fence with plenty to spare. At 13 home runs and with four regular season games remaining, he’s just three shy of the school record set by Luke Crumley in 2011.
The highlight of this story is Westmoreland’s three home run games in back-to-back weeks. On April 10, White County’s slugger bashed three long home runs in an 11-4 win against West Hall in Oakwood. Then five days later he hit the same number in another region win against Dawson County.
“It’s just been a crazy thing and I really have no words to describe it,” Westmoreland said. “I know it’s got to end at some point, but I really want it to last until the end of the season.”
For the season, Westmoreland is hitting .611 with 27 walks, 35 RBIs and an .850 on-base percentage.
For record watchers, Westmoreland is exactly half way to matching the state’s record of 26 homers by Christin Stewart of Providence Christian from 2012. But around White County, all they can talk about is Westmoreland’s tape-measure shots that have carried far beyond the wall at every field he’s gone deep.
In the Warriors’ first outing against West Hall in Cleveland, two days before his first three home run outing, Westmoreland cranked an 0-2 fastball high beyond the center-field wall and over the flap pole that bounced once and came to rest on the school’s softball field. He says that home run probably was about 420 feet, if he was forced to guess.
“I’ll knock on wood and hope he keeps hitting it like he has,” White County coach John Brown said. “He’s been right on top of it.”
Westmoreland’s hitting in the No. 3 hole, a tactical decision by Brown to make sure he gets to hit in the first inning, is a big reason why White County (15-6, 12-5 Region 7-AAA) is right in the thick for the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAA for the postseason.
This week, White County wraps up the regular season with games against North Hall, Fannin County, Buford and West Hall.
Westmoreland’s hitting tear is the talk of the town when he walks in the room. He constantly jokes about it with his father, Kurt. He even has teammates and players on the opposing team ask his secret behind his recent power surge.
“I just give all the credit back to the Lord,” Westmoreland said. “He’s really blessed me.”
Westmoreland’s collection of home runs at West Hall in Oakwood were probably the most impressive with all three easily clearing the fence in the general vicinity of center field. However, his longest home runs of the season were probably on his own home diamond.
Early in the season, he turned on a ball that he estimates came down in the pine trees about 40-feet behind the left field fence against Hart County, then again with a grand slam against Lumpkin County.
When Westmoreland, a Young Harris College signee, really got hot at the plate was after a strained hamstring against North Hall and move into the designated hitter spot. Still hurting from the mild leg injury that happened against the Trojans, he first broached the subject of hitting in the DH slot to Brown prior to the game against West Hall.
Naturally, White County’s coach asked how he could run from station to station if he was in pain.
“I told him that I wouldn’t have to run if I hit them all out,” Westmoreland said.
That’s exactly what he went on to do.
Westmoreland gives much of the credit to his personal training coach he drives to Habersham County to work with.
After hitting four home runs as a junior, White County’s home-run leader says he’s been much more aggressive swinging on the first pitch if he gets a fastball, and has also been able to turn on the off-speed stuff.
“I think of it like I get one good swing each at bat and want to make the most of it,” Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland and his teammate Brandon McConnell joke with each other constantly about an early season discussion.
McConnell asked his friend how many home runs he’d hit in 2013. Westmoreland felt a good conservative estimate would be five, one more than the previous season. McConnell was quick to fire back that his friend would surely be able to hit more than long ball.
“He reminds me of that every time I hit a home run and get back to the dugout,” Westmoreland said.