As the days get longer and spring approaches, many athletes are getting prepared for America’s pastime, baseball. Middletown High School’s team has already gotten started by lifting weights twice a week after school and going to Extra Innings for hitting practice. Going into his fourth varsity season, senior Chase Hoffman said that at the end of the season, he hopes to have a state championship.
Last season did not go as planned for Hoffman and the rest of the Knights baseball team. Many teams would be happy going 17-4 and making it to the regional semi-final game, but this team was hungry for more.
“With the talent we had last year, we expected to win a state championship,” Hoffman said.
These guys set the bar high and expect to be the best. This attitude is not going to change as they head into this season in the spring.
In 2013 the Knights season ended with a regional semi-final loss to Catoctin. Catoctin went on to win the 2A Maryland State Championship.
“The loss hurt, but it has really driven our team to work harder in the off-season,” said Hoffman.
Compared to last season, the talent for the upcoming season around the county has dropped. Many of last season’s first-team all-area members, including Middletown’s own Sean Wenner and Howie Kalamets, have graduated. This leaves big shoes for juniors and sophomores to step up and fill.
The Knights are working hard to get reaady for this season.
“We hit at Extra Innings on Mondays and go out on weekends to throw and take fielding practice,” said senior Mitch Sgrignoli.
Pre-season preparation is much needed in a sport like baseball. After several months off, it takes a while for the players to get their touch and get their swing back. Along with fundamental baseball practice, they have also been hitting the weights.
“Our team has been lifting twice a week and hitting on Monday nights,” said Hoffman.
“Our younger guys will have big shoes to fill from the seniors we lost,” said Hoffman. “They will have to produce a lot of offense.”
Upcoming varsity players include Mason Machak, Zeb Ahalt, Tyler Hickey and Kevin Gibson.
“I’m really excited for varsity baseball,” said Machak. “I think we will have a well-rounded team and I hope to help the team out with what I have to offer.”
With little varsity experience, the younger guys are going to look to seniors Hoffman and Sgrignoli for leadership. The pair work very well together playing shortstop and second base, respectively. These two guys are very determined to go far in the playoffs and bring the best out of everyone on the team.
“Everyone is going to have to work hard in the off-season and be focused in practice and prepared for the games,” said Sgrignoli.
Regardless of what anybody says, the 2014 team will hold high expectations for this season, Hoffman said.
Sgrignoli echoed Hoffman’s sentiments and the rest of the teams. His main goal: “to win a state championship.”