This is always a bittersweet day for us as we honor our Seniors on the Hale-Ray baseball team. Today, at 3:45 is our senior day against Somers and this year we have six kids who will be playing their last regular season game on our field. Luckily for us and them we get at least one more next week in the state playoffs but no matter what, they’re high school athletic careers are quickly coming to a close.
Senior nights are always special nights for the kids but the spring sports offers something a little more special. It is normally the last time that they will all be together playing. From the time when they were young kids in tee-ball to this day, they’ve gone through everything as a group. I don’t know, to me, it marks another huge step in their lives.
The six we honor all have taken wildly different paths to get to this point.
Captain Matt Wells came in as a freshman and started almost right away. We has played all over the infield for us the past four years and has hit all over the lineup as well. I don’t think I have ever coached a kid that loves the game as much as he does. No matter what happens this next week or so, Matt should be able to look back on his career here and be proud of his accomplishments. I hope he enjoyed his time as much as I enjoyed coaching him.
Captain Jeremy Francese had to endure his first two years being on the sidelined injured. He finally was able to work his way into the starting lineup half way through his junior year and never looked back. While his back has been in pain this whole time, through soccer and basketball, he hasn’t let it hurt his game nor has he ever used it as an excuse. I know that he leaves here thinking “what if he hadn’t been hurt?” but I think it has helped him grow as a person and will only benefit him down the line.
Captain Shawn Carlson has been a quiet force for us the past three seasons. He has hit over .300 and has been one of our starting pitchers. We haven’t had anyone who goes after the game like he does. He swings hard, he throws hard and he runs hard. It’s hard to think of another kid who works as hard as he does on the field. He’s not a rah-rah type of leader but I wish I could put his heart and desire into every other kid that comes through our program.
Harry Martin has been a consistent starter for us the past two seasons. He’s had some pretty memorable moments for us and has just been a real solid player. At practice, you can always find him and Shawn together working out, pushing each other to be better. He’s a real laid back kid but when it’s time to turn it on, he’s right there ready to go.
Tyler Rand is one of those players that every good baseball team has. You know exactly what Ty will give you day in and day out. Never gets to high or low. He makes the plays he needs to make and it seems like he always has a knack for coming up with a key hit in a key spot. A generally quiet kid but with a wicked sense of humor. If you see a bunch of guys laughing to tears, more than likely, Tyler’s the cause of it. I’d call him sneaky-funny and it’s perfect for keeping the team loose.
Kyle Hermann is our last senior. Kyle came in as a freshman who literally could not catch a fly ball. Could not throw a baseball and could not hit. Through hard work, grit and stubborn determination, he made himself into our starting right fielder, and a pretty damn good one at that. I probably did more one-on-one coaching with Kyle than any other senior. He was one of my JV captains last year and that really helped him develop into the kind of kid he is. He doesn’t take himself seriously his play in right field he does. He knows his role and works very hard at it. We’ve gone from closing our eyes and hoping he gets a glove on the ball his freshman year to being shocked that a ball actually isn’t caught now. That’s quite an improvement.
I think this is the closest I’ve been with any senior class and it will be sad to see them off into the next stage of life, but on the flip side, we still have a lot to accomplish. We have a chance today to lock up a home state game and of course winning states is the ultimate prize. I’m still not sure what lies for us but I feel comfortably knowing that these six will leave everything on the field through the last out.
Thanks guys for the memories now let’s go out there and make some more!!!