One last dinger for seniors

Helena Lara, Photo Editor

Though the LBJ Jaguars baseball team lost twice to rival McCallum High School, players are still hopeful for playoff games. According to senior Jacob Greendyk, the Jaguar’s win against Dripping Springs indicates a strong showing in coming games.
“This season, I feel like the program has really hit its stride,” Greendyk said.
The team finished tournament play with a winning record for the first time in program history, which Greendyk attributes to a regular and innovative practice created by Coach Eric Martanovic.
“The ways [Martanovic] designs practice during both the offseason and the district season have come together this year to help us be more prepared and develop more as players,” Greendyk said.
Tucker Ebest, senior and team captain, believes that team unity was and was an important reason for the team’s tournament success. Ebest said that good chemistry has allowed to connect on the field and play to the best of their ability.
“The team vibes better this year, we feel like a much more tight group, as everybody has good connections with each other,” said Ebest.
The team lost twice in a row to school rival McCallum early in district play, but the Jaguars ended up beating Dripping Springs and beat all teams in the latter half of district games.
“While we were swept by McCallum in district play, we also stole a game from Dripping Springs for the first time in four years of matchups,” Greendyk said.
According to Moore, mental fortitude is higher than in previous seasons, but could still stand to be improved before the team faces playoff games.
“We are mentally stronger as well,” Moore said. “We don’t get as upset when we make a mistake or get down. We keep fighting, which has also won us some games. That wasn’t there in the past.”
In order to have a more successful season next year, Moore said the team needs to improve specifically in hitting. The Jags struggled offensively this year, winning games against district opponents even though they only had one or two hits.
“Our only real issue was hitting”, Moore said.
Greendyk believes the mental side of baseball is just as important as the physical, especially for this year’s team.
“The game is defined by who can stay cool, calm, and collected and make the routine plays so that the entire team has the opportunity to walk away winners,” Greendyk said.
Greendyk believes that the team lacked focus and control while playing McCallum. He said that the lack of mental acuity was likely what went wrong during the games.
“We played Mac with an overdose of hubris dominating our pregame routines,” Greendyk said.
Ebest said that the team focused too much on the opponent. Instead, he hoped that the team would play how he knew they were capable of playing.
“I wish we had focused more on our own team against McCallum instead of beating our rival since we were too focused on their team, played down to our competition and gave away two big games early in district.” Ebest said.
Greendyk said that the scores against McCallum don’t define the talent the Jaguars had this season. He believes that if both teams played to the best of their ability, the Jaguars would come out on top.
“Any individual player on our team would agree that we should have won both games,” Greendyk said. “We are a better team than Mac, but we allowed them to win on the mental side of the game.”
Moore believes that if the team could have performed more on the field, they could have won the district title with relative ease.
“We probably should have beat McCallum,” Moore said. “A lot of mental mistakes cost us those games, along with an inability to hit. We probably could have won district. Our only real issue was hitting.”
Greendyk said that success next season is principally based on the experience of the juniors who will be leading the team next year.
“The core of now juniors will have one more year of experience under their belt, and I know next year they have the potential to win district and make a run in playoffs,” Greendyk said.
Because five senior players will be leaving this season, the team will have to replace several experienced pitchers and hitters.
“The team is going to take a huge hit in pitching losing Christian and Jacob, two very good pitchers for us this season, but we bounced back well this year with pitching after losing Sam [DiCarlo] and Harrison [Lee].” Ebest said.
For next season, Greendyk said focus and mentality are essential for a potential playoff series win. He said the team has to learn from mistakes made in the McCallum series and come with a will to win at any cost.
“I think we have the potential to win a playoff series, maybe two or three, but it all comes down to matchups and who wins the mental aspect of the game,” Greendyk. “When that focus is lost, the game of baseball becomes infinitely harder and punishes you like no other.”