Baseball notes: Stevenson aims for return to summery form
After only one week, the cold, damp weather of the Chicago area had become a distant memory.
The Stevenson baseball team spent Spring Break in warm, sunny Vero Beach, Fla., and had gotten quite accustomed to its much nicer conditions.
The Patriots went 8-1 during their trip.
When they came back, they immediately lost a North Suburban Conference game to Lake Forest, 14-0 on Tuesday.
"We weren't quite ready for that game against Lake Forest," Stevenson coach Pat Block said with a chuckle. "I think we were still on our Florida high, and we weren't used to the cold anymore.
"We got nine games in down there and I doubt we would have played at all if we had stayed up here. It was just so nice down there. We had a great trip. I was kind of surprised we weren't ready to play against Lake Forest, but hopefully that's a good wakeup call for us."
Just chillin': Baseball can be tough enough without self-induced stress and pressure.
Stevenson's top four seniors are showing just how well being laid back can work.
Seniors Henry Marchese, Michael Marches, Charlie Bourbon and Charlie Ling all came back from Stevenson's Spring Break trip to Florida with .500-plus batting averages.
They are the No. 1 through No. 4 hitters in the lineup.
"I think they are hitting so well because the pressure is off of them," Stevenson coach Pat Block said. "They've all made their commitments to their colleges. They're all set. Last year, there was more pressure on them as juniors. Now, they're just enjoying everything more and they're playing so relaxed. And they're playing well."
Henry Marchese will be playing football at Iowa next year while brother Michael is going to do the same at Illinois. Bourbon will play baseball at Northwestern and Ling has been accepted to multiple colleges already.
Say cheese: The camera doesn't lie.
"Sometimes we'll be working with a kid and we'll be telling him something about maybe a problem with his swing, and he'll say, 'But coach, I don't feel like I'm doing that,'" Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "That's when we'll get out the camera and tape him."
Smothers and his staff have found that video-taping players at practice and then reviewing the tapes with them later has been a great teaching tool.
"It works really great with pitchers. You can show them what they're doing and not doing," Smothers said. "When the kids see the tape, they'll be like, 'Oh, I am doing this, or I am doing that?' It's really helpful."
Video tapes sure did change the perspective of Vic Perez, Warren's catcher. He was struggling with his hitting when the coaches decided to bring out the camera.
"Vic had this hitch in his swing," Smothers said. "He watched a lot of tape and did a lot of work and it's a tribute to him because he's hitting really well now."
Perez is batting around .400, just one season after finishing with a .276 average. Now, he usually bats fifth for the Blue Devils.
Right way: It's not only the numbers that Tanner Dyer gets, it's the way he gets them.
Warren coach Clint Smothers just loves the way Dyer, his senior center fielder and lead-off hitter, plays the game.
"Tanner hit nearly .470 over spring break, but what I always really like about him is that he plays the game the right way," Smothers said. "He's just so focused on baseball and he works so hard. Whatever you want him to do, he does it.
"During the off-season, he worked his butt off and it's paying off for him. He's one of my favorite players that I've ever coached."
Good measure: There are bad losses, and there are good ones.
Lake Zurich got a pretty good loss over Spring Break while playing in Louisville.
"We went toe-to-toe with one of Kentucky's top programs," Lake Zurich coach Rick Erickson said of his team's 5-4 loss to Pleasure Ridge Park in nine innings. "We had a 3-run lead in the seventh and our starter, Trevor Niedzwiecki, hit his pitch count so we had to pull him.
"But that was a good stepping stone for us. It was good for our kids to see that they can compete with anyone, especially a top-notch program like that. That's a program that produces Division I players ever year. That says a lot."
Erickson says that sophomore Tyler Snep also had some big games over the break, and hit a 3-run homer in one game. He's batting third in the lineup for the Bears.
"Tyler had some great games for us last year in the top of the lineup," Erickson said. "He was good against some really good pitching. Even as a freshman last year, we knew he was the real deal."