The cracking sound of a baseball being hit and cheering from bleachers behind a gate around the field a crowd of fans in front of America’s pastime. Green and gold uniforms decorate the 2013 roster, composed of all three classes.
Senior Braeden Rogers said it is this mixture of upper and underclassmen that makes him excited for the season, and he is looking forward to playing with the younger players as more admiration and appreciation for the team grows.
“There’s only six seniors, and there’s actually a lot of open spots this year that our coach is looking to fill,” Rogers, a varsity pitcher for the team, said. “We have a lot of potential to be a really good team with a lot of the younger guys we have.”
While tryouts began the last week of February, the team faced a significant problem. Without the ability to play on the field because of the snow, Rogers and the rest of the members solved the complication.
“I thought [the tryouts] went really well. We tried a couple new things this year that we haven’t done in the past, but we did have one snow day,” Rogers said. “But it didn’t really delay us a whole lot, but we got a lot of stuff done despite the fact that we couldn’t go outside or had to work in the gym around other [sports] teams.”
After knocking tryouts and pre-season practice out of the way, the team now faces the pressures of playing the majority of their games away. Without the convenience of playing at home, the team will have to add blocking out detrimental cheers to their skill set.
“We have 35 games total … and we only have seven home games, so we’ve got to work on being able to not work that home advantage,” Rogers said, “and just kind of get our minds ready for the road and just working on being a lot better as a team.”
Working toward better defense is something Head Coach Justin Towe emphasizes. He believes the team can use its abilities on the field to gain an edge on both sides of the game.“
“Right now we’re swinging it as well as we’ve ever done; offensively, we’re really strong. But defensively, we’ve got to clean up some defensive issues and continue to throw strikes on the mound and limit our walks,” Towe said. “And if we can do that, then we’re going to be really tough to beat.”
The loss of Ryan Phillips, a pitching coach for RBHS who graduated last year, “has affected me and the rest of the team,” junior Kyle Teter said. Without a teammate to guide them, the Bruins are attempting to perform well without a role model.
“This year we didn’t have Ryan Phillips, so it’s going to be a lot different since he was the head of the team for the last four years,” Teter said. “And I guess we basically have to start over from where we were.”
This season, the team hopes to get to districts and win, which Teter said is the goal every year. The start of the season is a critical aspect and is something Teter hopes the team overcomes by practicing and preparing for the rest of the spring.
“This season we’re just … bouncing back and getting off to get to a good start,” Teter said. “Seeing how it goes and playing with the new team, we’re just hoping to figure it out.”
The way that the players are chosen to play positions are due to their effort and predisposition they show during the practices. When a player shows enough effort, they are given the chance to move up and down in rank on the team.
“High school baseball doesn’t last that long,” Towe said. “And so if you can’t get super motivated to play, then there’s probably someone that is, and that’s how those guys move up and down.”
Even though the team is in the middle of their season, the time they have left is minuscule. Towe said because of this, motivating the seniors isn’t too difficult.
Towe motivates them by “talking to them and saying ‘Hey, this is your last go; it’s time to give it all you have,’” Towe said. “And most of the time, if a guy’s a senior and still playing, then he’s doing that, so it’s not really that difficult to motivate a senior because there’s really not a lot left [of the baseball season].”
By Luke Wyrick