Baseball prioritizes improvement of hitting skills

Hayden Reyes ’16 pitches against West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North on April 23. Princeton lost 11–0. photo: Ziyi Liu

Hayden Reyes ’16 pitches against West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North on April 23. Princeton lost 11–0.
photo: Ziyi Liu

The baseball team began this year with a winning streak, completing its preseason with a record of 3–0. Although the undefeated record did not last as the regular season progressed, the team is still confident and retains its goal of winning at least ten games and qualifying for the state tournament.

“The undefeated preseason was really a confidence booster more than anything else,” said Head Coach David Roberts. This boost translated to their first regular season game when they beat Hightstown 10–7. Although they followed that win with a loss to Allentown 12–2, the boys did not view it as a setback. “We weren’t going to go undefeated the whole year—with 24 games, that’s not realistic for anybody,” said Roberts.

According to Jeffrey Gleason ’14 and Roberts, this year’s team is strong on the defensive side of the ball. “We have very good pitching … and we have [a] pretty strong defense, but our offense is what needs the most work,” said Gleason. Some of the team’s pitchers are Joaquin Burt ’16, Ben Gross ’14, and Ben Danis ’15, as well as Gleason himself.

Specifically, the team’s pitching is successful due to its depth. “We have … seven or eight pitchers who can throw a lot of strikes, and go deep into a game—for about five innings—with getting people out and not walking on the batter. If they do that without the field making errors, we’ll be good,” said Hayden Reyes ’16.

Furthermore, the team is not facing any major adjustments in terms of success due to players lost or gained. According to Roberts, the newcomers have compensated for those they lost in terms of statistics. “It looks like we’re going to be able to replace the innings pitched, which is really my major concern,” said Roberts. Last year’s graduating seniors combined for 80 innings pitched.

Since many members of the team agree that pitching is a strong part of their game, they have been mainly focusing on improving hitting. Additionally, due to the rainy weather, the fields have still been too wet and therefore not accessible to them so far this season. Instead, they are making use of time in the gym and batting cages.

“For most of March and early on in April, we’ve been inside [around] 90 percent of the time, and all we can do [inside] is hit,” said Roberts. This repetition of training has paid off as in the first game they scored 12 runs.

“[The hitting] looked very promising in our first game,” said Gleason. “[Although] it wasn’t there in some of the other games, I think [our training] will pay off because we’ve been working really hard.” It is especially crucial that the team works hard this season to train upcoming juniors and seniors to make up for those who graduated last season.

Because it is a younger group, “there is not as much experience, but there is a lot of talent on this team,” said John Reid ’15.

As far as strategizing for a winning season, Roberts wants to minimize walks and errors. Also, a major focus is clutch hitting. “[That] is what wins every close game,” said Reyes. “Getting two outs or getting a [clutch] hit.”

Throughout the season, the team continues to practice hard in order to exceed previous years’ records. Hitting is a big focus as the boys strive to not only make it to the state tournament, but to also win some games once they are there.

Said Gleason, “We don’t want to take any steps backward, and our goal is very attainable.”