View From Two

View from Two: Lessons from the Red Wings and ’07

As our season started this year, some people thought we were too hyped up. With a 7-6 start to the season, things just weren’t going the way we had hoped they would. But in our last 20 games we are 18-2 and pretty tough to beat. Winning a conference championship was great and a district title was even better. Now, our team is looking to go somewhere Hamilton baseball hasn’t been in a long time.

Two years ago we played in our regional game against Grand Rapids Christian at Unity Christian. This year we head back there to play Comstock Park. We are definitely hoping to do better this time around, as we got spanked pretty good 14-1. There is more confidence this time than when we were there two years ago. The mentality has changed. We had a goal to win districts two years ago and this year it was kind of an expectation. It’s going to take a great team effort and a real solid defense to continue our season.

With school ending today, coaches have been talking about keeping our focus on the task at hand. Coach mentioned that in years past, it was a little harder for some teams to remain focused during practice. However I don’t see it being a problem for us. Our practices are almost always pretty solid and that will probably be the case as we near the end. Situations like the one we are in can be really easy to press and be tight. But we’re relaxed and still having fun while keeping our focus.

The Detroit Red Wings have been a great example to our baseball team in the playoffs this year. It doesn’t matter what team they are playing or the talent of their opponents, the Red Wings play every game the same way. They play how they want to and use everyone on the ice wearing red and white to win. Go Hawkeyes and Go Wings!

-Corey Schrotenboer

View from Two: Being a team player means “Manny being Manny” is not always the way to go

Baseball has always had a great reputation in our country. Known as America’s past time, baseball is one of the biggest traditions in America. But that is quickly being thrown away. With so many of the major league players testing positive for steroid use, people are turning their backs on the sport. It is not fair to baseball for these players to be juicin’ up at all. However, high school baseball in Hamilton is different. It isn’t about just one person or what they think is the best thing to do. Major league players with a reputation of being a good hitter will almost never lay down a sacrifice bunt, even if it is best for their team in that situation. I have no doubt that anyone on our team would be willing to do that any time we need it.

So many times I see other schools with players who think they are the show. For some reason they think it is all about them. Honestly, it’s one of the things that bugs me the most. I cannot stand that, and it really shows the fine job teachers and coaches do at Hamilton to prevent that on our athletic teams. One of the best things in Hamilton sports is the unselfishness each team carries throughout the season.

As we enter our last week of conference play, we will need to keep our focus throughout the week. We are currently tied for first place with Zeeland East. With three games this week, we control our fate. Obviously we cannot control what any team does except for ourselves, so we will be looking to remain focused and play as well as we can. As is the case with every team in this league, Rogers and Unity Christian are not just going to give us a game to win. The final week of O-K Green baseball starts tomorrow as we are looking for a win heading into the final games of conference play on Friday.

-Corey Schrotenboer

View from Two: The changing goals of our program and mid-season reflections

Our baseball program has changed quite a bit over the past few years. Expectations have been raised. Just a couple of years ago, one of the goals of the varsity team was just to have a winning record. When that was done a little bit more was expected. During my freshman year, the varsity team set the school record for most victories in a single season. My sophomore year, our varsity team won our district, the first time Hamilton had done so in nearly two decades. One of the reasons for greater success recently is there is more dedication from the players to get better each day and from the coaches to not let any team settle for less than they are capable of.

Right now our team record is 8-6 overall and 3-2 in the O-K Green. All six of our losses, however, have been by three runs or less, and two of them in extra innings. One of my favorite times so far this year was during our 15-12 loss to West Ottawa in the championship game at the Martin E. Ball tournament. West Ottawa needed just one base hit in the bottom of the fifth to mercy us 14-4. But we stopped them and scored in the sixth and seventh innings to pull within three, just coming up short.

We are coming up on our half-way point through our conference schedule. The O-K Green has already showed its strength as the are only two teams with only one loss and no one undefeated. All the teams in our conference can beat anyone else on any day. The winner of our conference is going to be the team that is ready to play every game and does not make many mistakes. With only two conference losses, both to Wyoming Park, we are still in the running.

Even though it wasn’t finished due to weather, our tournament this past weekend was a huge success. Our baseball and softball programs raised a lot of money for the Susan G. Komen for a cure foundation. It is really exciting knowing how much we helped people in the area. It shows that this season is not just about baseball, but so much more.

-Corey Schrotenboer

View from Two: Thoughts on Improvement, Bases for a Cure and the O-K Green

As we began league play last week we started a new part of our season. One of our team goals, along with the others in our O-K Green conference, is to win a league title. We played in two close games against Zeeland East and Wyoming Park. By going 1-1 in those games, it proves the difficulty of our conference. This week we have games against Rogers and a rematch with the Chix. Rogers already has a quality win over Jenison this year and we collected just three hits in our last game against East. We are looking to improve each day and with an improved offensive performance from Friday to Saturday, this week looks to have some pretty exciting matchups.

Coming up this Saturday is our annual Hamilton tournament. The tournament has a new aspect this year. Saturday is “Bases for a Cure” at the ball fields and our team along with the varsity softball team will be decorated in pink, supporting the Susan G. Komen for a cure foundation. We sold pink t-shirts to members of the Hamilton Community so they too could show their support for breast cancer. Several people in our area are, or have been, affected by breast cancer and this means a lot to everybody. It’s going to be a special day.

We have built some pretty good tradition over the past few years in our baseball program. Obviously, we will be looking live up to that tradition and the expectations of us. There is a lot of talent on our team and we are not looking to just get by. Even though a couple of our games have been canceled due to rain lately, we have been practicing hard in the gym. The future of Hamilton Baseball looks bright as well as Coach Grabinski is working the JV team hard each day.

In our conference there is no team that is an automatic win. We will be approaching each game the same in the upcoming weeks. Hopefully this week’s league games are better offensively than last week’s were and we will score a few more runs. We’re trying to improve each game and we will need to continue to improve to contend for a league championship this year.

-Corey Schrotenboer

View from Two: Memories built as we return to Michigan

Our varsity baseball team, along with a few junior varsity players, once again spent Spring Break in South Carolina.  The trip seemed to go by very quickly as we were busy with different activities most of the time.  We practiced in the morning from about 9:30 to 2:00 pm at Bishop England High School. Our practice consisted of defensive work for a while and then three different stations for hitting.  After a short break we would begin a four inning inter-squad scrimmage.

The afternoon after practice sometimes involved going to the beach, although the weather was a little cooler than what it normally is there for this trip, basketball at the park, tanning on the pool deck, or some video games.  We were split into four groups for dinner and each took our turn making it on the night it was assigned to us.  The nights were busy as well as we went bowling one night, went to a baseball game between The Citadel and Charleston Southern, and played “Street Smarts: Southern Style”.

Apart from a short downpour Monday morning, we were provided with great weather for practice.  We got a ton of reps fielding ground balls, catching fly balls, and swinging the bats.  Our pitching seemed to improve a ton as we had several awesome performances on the mound in our tournament on Saturday.

This trip was about more than just baseball though.  Our team, already pretty tight-knit, grew even closer through various activities and just living with people we don’t normally live with.  Our main activity was “Street Smarts: Southern Style” and this seemed to help us learn the most about each other.  Walking up and down the beach in several groups, we had to ask random people basic questions and record them answering, or attempting to answer, the questions.  The tapes were then all put together to make one movie that we used to play the game on Thursday night.

An already great trip got even better on Tuesday morning when Coach Behnke made an unexpected appearance and was able to stay with us for the rest of the trip.  His humor is usually a great bonus for the team and that proved to be true for the remaining couple of days.

With a busy upcoming week we will look to hit the practice field hard on Monday.  We will be playing five games Tuesday through Saturday and will need to continue to get good performances on the mound this week.

-Corey Schrotenboer