His quadriceps hurting, Jimmy Webb took off on a mad dash from right field. The foul ball hit last June at Penn State seemed uncatchable, but Webb sprinted a long way before diving head over heels over the short bullpen wall in pursuit.
Webb did not make the catch but the play summed him up. Give him a challenge and watch Webb attack it. Maybe that is why the playoff seems to bring out Webb's best. Loyalsock is playing again in the state's Class AA Final 4 today against Neumann-Goretti and Webb is a big reason why.
"When Jimmy is playing his best and worried about only the game there's not many people that are better than him," pitcher/shortstop Kyle Datres said. "He has great wheels, he can go get the ball and he hits the ball hard. He's a great teammate and that's all you can ask."
Loyalsock’s Jimmy Webb watches a hit during the District 4 Class AA?championship game against Bloomsburg at Bowman Field.
Webb earned all-state honors last year and had a huge postseason, consistently delivering big hits in Loyalsock's biggest games. A year ago, Webb delivered six hits in his final three state tournament games as Loyalsock captured the state championship.
This year Webb seems right at home again in states. The junior right fielder is 4 for 7 with a home run, three RBIs and three runs scored in two state tournament wins. That comes after hitting close to .400 in districts.
"We're definitely working as a team right now and playing our best baseball," Webb said. "Hopefully, we haven't played our absolute best yet. We want to peak at the right time and we want our next game to be our best one."
Webb will attend Wake Forest in 2015 after making a verbal commitment last May. That he was such a hot commodity as a sophomore speaks to Webb's ability and his value. He has impressed at Loyalsock since his freshman year, starting every game the past three seasons, but Webb really made a statement when he excelled down South in 2012, playing well in an elite showcase against some of the country's premier players.
But Webb has made a huge impact in Pennsylvania, too, helping one of the state's premier programs keep flourishing. He is hitting a team-best .449 and has compiled an on-base percentage of above .600 for a third consecutive year. Webb also has scored 26 runs, driven in 21 more, and stolen 14 bases.
Baseball, though, can be humbling and frustrating at times. Throughout the postseason, Webb had been ripping the ball but many times right at defenders. It happened again Thursday when he drilled a scorching line drive toward the left-field line in his first at-bat against Notre Dame-Green Pond, only to watch it land right in the left fielder's glove.
One of the best balls Webb hit this postseason came in the district final against Bloomsburg. He slammed it toward deep center field, but again it was right at the defender.
"He got upset the other day (last week). I told Jimmy they're going to fall," assistant coach Nate Hill said. "There's nothing you can do about it, but I'm just glad you're hitting the ball hard."
Webb found a way to make sure the defense could not field anything he hit in his final at-bat against Notre Dame. With the Lancers holding a slim 2-0 lead, Webb came up with one on and two outs. He took a first-pitch ball and then crushed a long home run which easily cleared the fence in dead center field for a game-clinching home run.
Webb pumped both fists as he rounded first. It was one part pure joy, one part excitement and one part relief.
"We talk all the time about how baseball is a funny game. You can hit it hard all the time and right at somebody and hit a little dinker and it's a hit," Datres said. "He found one, squared it up and hit it over the fence and it gave us a lot of momentum going into the last inning."
"Jimmy has been seeing the ball well and I didn't want to do anything crazy and take the bat out of his hands," Hill said. "Thank God I didn't."
Webb would love to have a similar performance against Neumann-Goretti today. Really, though, he would like nothing more than to win.
Loyalsock knows Webb will be going all-out to help make that happen.
"We've said all year that everyone has one job and that we each have to get our job done," Webb said. "If we keep playing like we have been we should get the job done."