I have a small sign that hangs in my bedroom which reads “you can learn little from victory; you can learn everything from defeat.” I glanced at this sign the other day and I was struck with a realization: baseball is a lot like life in a lot of ways. The more you prepare, the better you tend to perform when the lights are bright and the seats are full.
Just like life, sometimes it takes a few hard losses to bring out the best in yourself and your teammates.
The sophomore baseball team, which is comprised, confusingly enough, of freshmen, has not had the greatest season this year in terms of wins and losses. On March 23, I was able to watch these youngsters capture just their second victory of the campaign against Kinkaid, followed by their third win last Tuesday facing St. John XXIII.
For these freshmen, learning how to take a lesson from losing might be the most valuable thing they can take away from this year. As our own varsity baseball team found out in 2014, the sport can take a player from the nauseating lows of an embarrassing freshman season to the dizzying highs of a state championship.
Led by Coach Jay DeWitt ’09, these young players impressed me beyond words with their abilities. They might not have been launching mammoth home runs or making Gold Glove caliber plays but they showed an innate ability to do the little things right.
They made crisp and clean throws to first and played all-around solid defense behind three solid innings on the mound from Jackson Phillips on March 23. In this case, doing the little things right proved to be the difference between a win and a loss against Kinkaid.
They proceeded to ride a fresh wave of momentum and take full advantage on a weak pitching performance from St. John XXIII and made the scoreboard ring like a pinball machine. They were getting runners into scoring position and promptly bringing them around with rapid and impressive efficiently.
As young players who are just getting their feet wet in high school play, developing these fundamental skills is ultimately more important than wins and losses. Good at bats teach discipline and making good pitches like Phillips did against Kinkaid teaches mental toughness that can only be gained with experience.
Making solid contact with good pitches teaches more hand-eye coordination than watching strikes float across the plate. Just because said contact does not result in a base hit does not mean the at-bat was a failure. At this point in their careers, learning to lose just might be more valuable than even an undefeated season.
This team is full of talented players from top to bottom like Mac Sage, Zachary Snow, Wade Swan, and the aforementioned Phillips. These talented athletes will take invaluable lessons from this season which will only benefit them in their later years. The baseball program is in good hands, and these guys will make sure of it.