“There’s a first time for everything” was the Cavs’ model during their game against Delta High School, with seven of their 11 team members new to baseball.
After losing their seasoned seniors – including Zane Jakobs, ‘16, Emil Erickson, ‘16, and Aidan Cunningham, ‘16 – the team was largely filled with inexperienced students, junior Nate Jakobs said.
And that inexperience was evident in the team’s first game, when they fell to the Delta Saints on March 9 at Delta High School, 0-11.
Since some of the players had never hit in a game before, it was a slow start, according to Jakobs.
“But we were getting unlucky a lot of the time, hitting the balls hard but right to them and getting out when, usually, they’d end up as hits,” Jakobs said.
“On another day, it could have been eight runs for us.”
Although freshman Avinash Krishna was brand new to baseball, Jakobs said he played a “pretty solid first base.”
After Krishna got a bloody elbow from sliding on cement in the first inning, he said his anxiety grew. But Krishna said he “toughed it through” and got about six players out.
Not only were there new players but also new positions for returning athletes.
Since junior Jack Christian, who normally plays catcher, was out on the field, sophomore Max Kemnitz filled in.
“It adds a whole new spin on the game,” Kemnitz said, “because as a catcher, you have a part in every play, so you naturally have to always be alert.”
However, it did not come without its difficulties.
“My legs (were) getting really tired to the point where it was hard to keep them from shaking,” he said.
While Kemnitz was playing catcher, Jakobs pitched and Christian played shortstop until he pitched in the fifth and sixth innings.
“With Nate pitching and me playing (shortstop), there’s a couple holes in the infield,” Christian said. “So that’s where we really got to work to get some of our new players in.”
In his first inning as pitcher, Christian said he was getting into the motions and didn’t throw many strikes.
“But (in) the second inning I pitched much better and threw right down the middle into the strike zone,” Christian said.
This was the first time the new recruits had seen live pitching, according to coach Chris Millsback. He also said that only Christian and freshman Hayden Boersma managed a hit.
Christian said that the Cavs’ opponent wasn’t “way, way, way” better than SCDS but that they were a solid team.
But Delta’s team was primarily made up of experienced juniors and seniors, according to freshman Om Sharma, and their pitching was excellent.
“Off the tee I am great, and with slow balls I can slam it,” Sharma said. “But these teams throw really fast, so I need to practice a lot for that.”
Baseball isn’t Delta’s only strength. In fact, Callahan Rooney – Delta’s best player and starting pitcher – will be bull-riding at Montana State University next year, according to Jakobs,
Repetition will resolve the Cavs’ difficulties, Christian said, and the rookies have promising talent.
Their next game at Leroy Greene Academy against Leroy was rescheduled from Friday, March 16, to Wednesday, March 21, because too many players would have missed it due to Mock Trial, according to Christian.
—By Larkin Barnard-Bahn