Spartans’ Baseball, a Real Catch
A sneak peek inside a Spartans’ baseball practice
April 14, 2016
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
By Nate Cormier, Maroon Tribune Reporter
The final bell of the day rings throughout the hallways of Monument Mountain. A select group of teammates make their way down the long corridors and turn down the hallway toward the locker room. Lacing up their cleats and filling up the water jug, the boys rush to be the first ones on the field. As they step out of the locker room, the sound of metal cleats clashes on the hard concrete, the noise echoing through the cavernous platform. Walking down past the football field and to the left of the JV baseball diamond, the team talks to each other and shares final laughs before the work begins.
Descending down the hill, we come upon a creek. The small trickling creek symbolizes the start of the practice. No matter what we may be carrying, we jump the creek and begin to run. A key rule on the Spartans field: run at all times. We make the jog down the right field foul line and all the way to the first base bench area where we drop our bags and dive into the bucket of balls. We fight to find the best, pearly white baseballs hidden deep in the bucket, until most of them are gone, leaving slim pickings for some. Everyone lines up along the fence by the first baseline as the captains call out the stretches. From jogging to lunging to jumping and more, the team stretches for ten minutes before they partner up and jog out to right field. We form a line on the foul line and another line standing a few feet away, the baseballs fly back and forth across the green grass with a resounding pop each time the ball is caught. The lines back up and the smack of the baseballs hitting the leather sounds throughout the field.
Throwing drills conclude and we form three lines on the streak of white chalk outlining the field. We sprint from the line to the second base bag and then repeat five times. Dripping sweat and breathing heavily, we wait for further instruction from our coach, Tom Hankey, who plans out each practice down to the last detail. Never knowing what to expect for the day is what keeps the team coming back for more. All they have to do is listen to Hankey and work as hard as they can for the next two and a half hours. No matter what Hankey has in store for the Spartans, he gives them his commands and they sprint to wherever they have to go.
A usual beginning to our baseball activities is a pre-game warm up. Each player runs out to his respected position and gets ready the same way he would as if it were game day. Coach Hankey smacks pop flies to the outfielders with a loud ping of his bat. He sprays the ball all over the outfield making the players work hard to get their body positioned in a way to throw a bullet to the destination. First is a throw to second, then to third, then another to home. The ball zips past the infielders playing their cut offs and snagging the ones thrown to them as they relay the ball to the catcher to get the fake runner at home. Once the outfielders finish their session they sprint in and watch the infield go to work. The ball whizzes from player to player with a smack of leather as the ball gets slung around. Ground balls are hit to the infielders, testing their range as they get their chance to show off. We share smiles and chat about the plays while laughter fills the air. We turn double plays, and make diving stops with grunts and groans, our sprawls creating clouds of dust when we hit the ground. Once the our session is over, we make our way to the water for a much needed break. Without any hesitation, we are given the order to set up for batting practice.
DeFelice and Perry, the two oldest members of the team, still act like they’re twelve year old kids playing the game they love while running around the outfield trying to rack up points for their team. First year varsity player Ben Wyatt stated, “batting practice is always the best part of the day.” These high school athletes seem to still be in love with the game and the work ethic it takes to be good. At the end of the day, all of the batting practice equipment gets put away, all the baseballs picked up and, after one last huddle, with a loud roar of “Spartans,” the team jogs off the field and back over the creek where the walk across the parking lot began. The cleats clash with the platform once again, kicking up sparks as dirt gets knocked off the spikes. Into the locker room and back out again, with the sun setting behind Monument Mountain to the left, we begin to make our way home, just waiting for the next chance to do it all over again.