by Dakota Antelman
The baseball team–Hudson’s only team, aside from girls tennis, who qualified for playoffs last spring — has done their best with the conditions they faced in March.
Practicing as late as 9PM for much of March, the team struggled to get a feel for their game. Batting practice was all but impossible in the gym, and fielding work was limited given the spacial constraints.
“It’s hard staying in the gym. As an outfielder, you can’t take fly balls, grounders don’t feel the same,” explained outfeilder and pitcher Kyle Sullivan.
To date, the athletic director has been forced to postpone three of the baseball team’s early games, pushing the end date of the season into June.
But as much as the baseball team has been one of the hardest hit teams in terms of early spring struggles, they have also arguably logged the most actual game time of any team so far. Tim Reinhardt’s team has frequented the indoor facility at Forekicks in Marlborough while they also recently made a weekend trip down to Cape Cod for a scrimmage.
Coach Reinhardt saw weaknesses in the low scoring Cape Cod game, but was generally happy with the mental strength he saw in his team.
“We do have a lot of things we need to work on, but more so, I was encouraged by the effort by the guys, the attitude, the hustle of the players,” he said. “Yes there are some things we need to work on, but it definitely has been hard being inside for so long. Once we get on a field we should be good to go.”
Though the town has not yet allowed them to practice on their Riverside Field, they did finally get out of the gym as March came to a close. While many other teams just got to running outside,the varsity and JV baseball teams were already both running full practices in the Riverside Parking Lot.
The ample room allowed the team to work on longer fielding plays and get acclimated to longer distance throws. In kind, Reinhardt has quickly begun envisioning what his roster will look like once the season does get under way later this month.
Thankfully for the Hawks, this year’s roster is a very experienced one with no less than four three- and four- year varsity veterans returning for their senior year. They retain last year’s number one pitcher, Kyle Sullivan; infielder Ben Palatino; and slugger Connor Bacon. Additionally, Reinhardt is eyeing senior Eric Karlson as a possible juggernaut at the plate this season.
“Were hoping he steps into a bigger role on the team this year, outfielder, corner infielder, designated hitter, wherever we can get him in and get him some at bats,” Reinhardt said.
The team has worked to stay positive throughout the practice. But they were dealt a major setback no less, right as the Cape Cod trip seemed to suggest a strong season. Conner Bacon, who was dominant at the plate and on the mound a year ago, sprained his ankle during one of the team’s practices at Forekicks.
Though the injury was not serious, he will, according to Reinhardt, be missing two to three weeks of practice time.
“It’s not ideal. But at the same time it is just a sprain,” he said. “We’re just being cautious right now, just trying to make sure no problems get worse than they already are. So he’s gonna be out for a little bit, but we’re thinking, at least hoping, that everything will be ready for the first game.”
Bacon recently committed to play baseball next season at Boston College and is a respected leader on the team. His absence has shaken up the team, but as the season nears, and he eventually returns, they will hope to work him back into their regular lineup.
He remains poised for a strong year, and the injury has not yet worried the team’s coaches in any major way.
He himself spoke highly of the caliber of players on the team just before the team left for Cape Cod. In all, this HHS baseball team, one that rode strong pitching and power hitting all the way to the DIII finals last year, is eager to make 2015 look as much like 2014 as possible.
“For the seniors especially, we want to go out on top,” Bacon asserted. “We want to win as much as possible, and we’ve put in a lot of hard work to do that. I think it’s gonna pay off, and we’re gonna go far this year. I think we can be even better than we were last year.”
video and interviews by Siobhan Richards