By Bailey Pennycuff / Co-sports Editor
The Hutchinson Community College baseball team is having a successful season so far.
The Blue Dragons are 27-11 and running away with the Jayhawk West championship. At 19-5 in the conference, Seward County is a distant second at 13-7, and a big part of that success is due to the remarkable hitting.
The Blue Dragons are batting .326, with freshman infielder Austin Callahan leading the way at .420.
“I think what makes our team so good is our family mentality and relationships we have with each other – it’s something special about our team. I think that and our offense carries our team,” said Callahan, who has bopped 13 home runs.
Another part of being successful is being able to handle the pressures of the game.
“I think we’ve been so successful this year because we have a really close team, which just makes playing games super fun. When the whole team is loose and having fun, it takes away all the stress of playing and makes the actual game itself that much easier,” said sophomore outfielder Will Reetz, who is batting .358.
To have a strong offensive team does not mean to simply have players who can hit the ball far. It means being able to score the clutch runs, and picking up a struggling teammate by coming through at the plate.
“We just try to hit the ball hard and take what the game gives you,” Reetz said. “It definitely helps knowing that everyone in the offense is capable of having great days at the plate. One bad at-bat doesn’t dictate the rest of the game, because we know that next guy up will get the job done.”
Even the best teams in the pros have aspects in the game to improve on. The Blue Dragons have their sights on what to improve on personally, as well as for the team as a whole.
“There’s no doubt our team has had to be more mentally tough. That’s being able to take accountability for ourselves every day, whether it’s during the games or at practice. Our team could improve on the defensive side of the game – fielding and throwing when it matters,” Callahan said. “I think, personally, I need to work on being more consistent as a hitter. Hitting is extremely contagious. There’s nothing I want more than to see my teammates succeed at the plate, and it only makes me a better hitter.”
After losing a season last year, most athletes are trying not to take their seasons for granted. No one truly knows when it will be the last time they step off the field, or if their favorite thing in the world will be stolen from them again.
“The biggest motivator for me this season is knowing that this is my last season here at Hutch. Last year we got our season cut short, and that made me take a long look at my time here. It helped me put things into perspective and realize how much I love this place and this team,” Reetz said. “Most people don’t come here planning to be here for three years, so the rest of the third years and I are just trying to enjoy this season as much as we can and leave everything we have on the table.”