Tourtellotte Tigers a young team
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Thompson - posted Tue., May. 24, 2011
When rain forced one more game cancellation on May 19, coach Jake DeGennaro made his baseball team practice inside. With two regular season games left, DeGennaro was philosophical about the team’s play this year. The Tigers are a young team with only four seniors, only three of whom have seen any significant varsity play. Three freshman infielders are starters. Naturally it’s taken time for the younger players to make adjustments.
“The hardest part has been at the plate,” DeGennaro said. “We’ve been in a lot of close games, something we didn’t have last year.”
By his own estimation, six or seven of the Tigers’ losses could have been wins if his players had been more experienced and used to playing close games in later innings. They lost to Windham Tech by one run and the winning run was on base. They were ahead in the seventh inning against Wheeler, but lost that game as well. They threatened Plainfield in the seventh inning, even though the score was 6-2.
“We made a few key mistakes in those games,” DeGennaro said. “One play here, one play there, we’re just not used to being in that close of a game with that much pressure. And that pressure made us come undone a couple of times.”
DeGennaro is hopeful for the future. Houle wasn’t in the starting lineup at the beginning of the year and is now indispensable. Ryan Gendreau is coming along fine in his first season as catcher. Freshman pitcher Jake Silvia has come far this season. And the more experienced varsity players have grounded the team. His young players are gaining valuable experience and, more importantly, beginning to believe in themselves.
“They know they can compete at this level. So their confidence is building. I think now they realize they are a good team. It makes it easier to look towards next year.”
Baseball Coach Jake DeGennaro
Thoughts: We approach every day the same. We want to play with pride - pride for the school and the program. We’re always going out with that in our minds. We want some momentum going towards next year. Hopefully those outcomes will flip our way.
Spotlight 1: Joel Jezierski, #34, Junior, first baseman, pitcher.
Joel bats fourth with .442 average, has 7 doubles, a homerun, and leads the team in RBI’s. "He’s our big bat. His defense is much improved. He’s very steady on first. He’s working on his arm strength, but we’re very confident in his ability to calm down our infield (three freshman). He’s a calming force. He’s a quiet leader in the infield as far as stability and the confidence he gives his infield," said coach DeGennaro.
Spotlight 2: Shawn Houle: #10, Freshman, third baseman.
"Shawn has earned his spot on the roster," said DeGennaro. "He’s already one of the better defensive third basemen in our league. He’s a very good player. Offensively, he struggled to make adjustments. He’s been working his way up. At this point he is our lead-off or #2 batter, depending on the team they’re playing. He has a bright future."