Baseball experiences early growing pains

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On Monday, April 8, the baseball team took on the Highland Park Giants. At the top of the seventh, New Trier tied the game and things began to look up for them. An inning later, the Trevs scored another run.
However, their hot streak ended at the bottom of the eighth when the Giants scored two runs to come from behind and win.
In the end, this wasn’t New Trier’s day, as they lost 4-3 to the Giants in extra innings and saw their two game winning streak come to an end.
Even though the team lost, senior captain Andrew Kirby, infield and pitcher, said, “[Pitcher] Grant Stern threw a great game on Tuesday. All the runs he let up were unearned and he really did a nice job throwing strikes and pitching to contact on a cold day.”
Senior captain Matt Blanchard, an outfielder, thought they did some things right during Tuesday’s game, too, saying, “The positives we can take out of this game was that we were aggressive at the plate and we did what the coaches preach all the time which is to compete.”
Yet, multiple errors tripped the team up causing them to lose at the Tuesday game in Highland Park.
“We need to field the ball better and make accurate throws,” said head coach Mike Napoleon. “We need to continuously work on our bunting.”
Senior captain and pitcher Kevin Douaire added, “We struggled in the field today with 5 errors.”
So far this season has been a bit of a rocky start for the baseball team with a record of 3-5-1.
However, senior captain Josh Katz, a catcher, attributed that to the many “young guys” on the team. “We’re gonna gel as a team,” he added.
Kirby agreed, saying, “Our record right now is not great, but with a relatively inexperienced team facing the level of competition we have, it is not a reason for concern yet.”
This season there are only two returning starters, according to Katz; the rest make up a young team. The new players have brought both strengths and weaknesses to the team.
“We are fast up and down the line-up. We have a solid starting pitching. Our outfield defense is strong. We are fast in the infield, but we need to be more accurate on our throws,” said Napoleon.
Douaire believes their biggest strength this year has been hitting in clutch spots to get back in the game.
“An example of that would be when we were down 6-3 in the seventh against St. Viator and we scored four runs to take the lead and eventually win the game,” he said.
Kirby said, “I think our team has a lot of depth; every position has multiple guys who will be key contributors. I think we rely on our pitching to work quickly, be efficient and throw a lot of strikes to keep us in the game.”
But, according to Kirby, the hitting isn’t quite at the same level as the hurlers on the mound.
“We don’t have the power in the lineup we had last year, so I think that this team may not be as high powered offensively,” he said.
Napoleon said, “We need to put the bat on the ball with 2 strikes more consistently.”
With all of this said, Douaire believes “the biggest things we need to work on are getting our bats going earlier in the game instead of waiting until late in the game.”
In addition to working on batting, Kirby said, “I think the infield needs to improve because we have had too many guys get on base because of errors.”
On the other hand, Napoleon thinks it’s the fundamentals that need work, saying, “The team needs to work on playing catch, and using proper footwork to throw.”
Blanchard agreed with his coach about improving fundamentals. “Our biggest weakness is our defense. It’s a major gap in our team,” he said. “We need to go back to the fundamentals of the game and start making plays and once we do then we will start winning a lot more games.”
“We could improve on defense and throwing,” said Katz, “This will help us at the end of the year when pitching is consistent.”
Since the team is so young and inexperienced, Katz sees that as a challenge they will have to overcome. “I think we’ll be fine at the end. [It will just] be tougher than years past,” he said.
“[Last season] we had an incredibly talented team. Don’t get me wrong we have some great talent this year,” said Blanchard. “Like my teammate Grant Stern says, it’s not how about how you start, it’s how you finish.”