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Out of The Park

Jenna Spence

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Ask anybody who knows anything about Blue Jay Baseball and they will mention the same thing: this is a very young team. After losing 14 seniors in the 2016 season and only having three returning seniors this season, this year’s team has some big shoes to fill.

Here’s the good news. Not only are the Jays filling their shoes, they’re running in them and not looking back. The Jays are 14-5 so far this season, winning their last seven games, Scoring an average 8 runs per outing. Seniors Clayton Adams, Tyler Miller and Collin Hill have been leading this young team to a very impressive start.

“We are the youngest team that Coach Bragg has ever had to coach so it is unusual to see underclassmen stepping up and taking big roles,” senior Tyler Miller said. “They have adapted really well and are doing what they need to do.”

And that they have. Stand-out underclassmen include freshmen Jovan Gill and Ben Jones and sophomores Braxton Bragg, Drew Mackie, Nathan Gray and Jordan Carlson. Starting upperclassmen include juniors Ian Jacobs, Jordan McClellan, Hunter Evans, Thomas Henrichs and the three seniors.

The upperclassmen have had to step in and help the younger players adapt to the bigger stage, which has been a success according to the numbers. On the mound and at the plate, the underclassmen have stepped up to produce many hits and RBI’s for the Jays’ offense, and many strikeouts for their defense.

“The new guys all learn really fast and pick up on things very easily,” senior Collin Hill said. “They are all very talented.”

This team is all about doing what they can individually to help out their teammates to the best of their ability. Practicing and playing seven days a week, the Jays have had a lot of time to learn each other’s abilities and strengths in order to use them for the benefit of the team, a concept that was hard to grasp in the beginning of the season.

“Inexperience is our biggest adversity as well as learning how to play as a team,” assistant Varsity Coach Vince Armillio said.

Hill agrees.

“At the beginning we were very unorganized and didn’t know what we needed to do,” he said. “Now in the middle of the season we know how to help each other and know how to push runs across the board in order to win some ball games.”

Despite the inexperience, the seniors have made a significant impact on the team. Admired by the team, the three seniors help keep the players in-check in the dugout during games and in drills during practice. They have helped the underclassmen adapt to the varsity level, which is a huge change from what they were used to.

“The seniors are a bunch of good guys to be around,” junior Logan Steenstra said. “They’re a lot of fun and they’re not up-tight. They’re always loose and making sure eveyone is having a good time.”

Now that the majority of the Jays are adapted to their new setting, talk about a strong post-season is very legitimate.

“I think the team can do a lot of really good things this post-season,” senior Clayton Adams said. “Liberty has a really good reputation of winning. Any time you have Liberty on your chest, the other team knows that they’re going to get a good game.”

The coaches are depending on the seniors to lead this team to victory this season, especially against Liberty North, who the Jays lost to at the beginning of the season 1-0

“The future successes of the junior, sophomore and freshman classes can be traced back to what these seniors do,” Armilio said. “I see our team with the opportunity to do big things this postseason and it will be up to the seniors if we take the opportunity or watch it pass by.”

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Out of The Park