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With The Season Underway, Tigers Baseball Resumes

SHHS’ baseball program is set to return, a bit differently this time around.
Sophomore INF Ryan Netkovick throws to Senior 1B Jack Maziarz to make the out.

The spring sports season is well underway, and Tigers baseball is in full swing. But what’s happening down at the Landers Diamond?


Tryouts took place in late March, and sophomore infielder Ryan Netkovick knows a thing or two about the preseason regimen. “The tryout process can be a stressful time for a lot of players, myself included,” Netkovick said. “Although the team does a very great job at welcoming people in and keeping things loose during practice to help remove some of that stress.” He also talked about athleticism-based and skill-based drills players endure to showcase their abilities to the coaches. 


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Netkovick, a second-year varsity player, is no stranger to this Tigers system, as he was thrown into the fire at second base early into his freshman year.


“It was an experience that I tried to embrace and enjoy because I know that not many people get to experience it,” Netkovick said. “ It was definitely nerve-wracking at first, but I’m thankful for the upperclassmen taking me in and helping me learn how to carry myself as a varsity player. I couldn’t have been able to do it without the support that I received.”


The first day of tryouts began with basic calisthenics, followed by stretches. Then the team broke into two, with half of the team doing a dynamic workout, and the other working on mass base-running. This was quite different from past tryouts, which usually featured arm stretches, throwing, and push-ups during this period. That would come later.


Afterward, players began batting practice. Some players shagged baseballs in the field, others hit off a tee, others hit in the cage. But what every player waited for were swings off the pitching machine. The first swings of the new season. Some select players, however, were pulled away from BP by an assistant coach. These four, seniors Matt Drobiak, Johnny Viola, Burke Belsky, and sophomore Justin Moskal, would each throw a 30-pitch bullpen session. Coaches and catchers would judge how they performed, and evaluate them for the new season.


Drobiak, the Tigers projected ace headed into 2024, looked good. He threw with a consistent velocity and great control. Viola threw hard as well, yet his control wasn’t ideal, according to senior catcher Wyatt Allen. Belsky’s fastballs had good movement, showing value as the Tigers’ only southpaw. Moskal also looked great, throwing with deceivingly high velocity. 


The Tigers finished with a mile run around the twin diamonds, and that was it. Tuesday and Wednesday would see similar action, with some soft-toss and hill-running spliced in. 


This new structure was the brainchild of head coach Matt Foley, who was ecstatic to get to be on a real diamond so early on. “For the first time in many years, we began the season on the baseball field, which made for much more productive practices,” Foley said. “In the past, we utilized the gym and the large field in the bowl area. We would have to get creative to simulate real baseball in these areas, so starting immediately on the field was a huge advantage.”


Wednesday, however, would see the summative event of the week: team-making. The varsity roster was composed of all five seniors, all three juniors, and all but two sophomores. No freshmen made the team, meaning they’ll have something to prove on the JV diamond at Beachgrounds Park. 


These players have played together for a while now, and their chemistry is on point, according to second-year Tigers assistant coach Jess Nelson. “This team is going to be a lot of fun,” Nelson affirmed. “They seem to enjoy each other’s company, but they also work hard. The extra effort they put in before, during, and after practice should lead to us being a very competitive team.”


The Tigers will need that competitive edge early on, as they face the Wahconah Warriors at Landers on Tuesday. Ace Matt Drobiak is expected to be on the bump for opening day.

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