By Jesse Rosenthal
If success is measured in terms of winning and losing in baseball, then it could be said the Pierson JV Baseball Whalers were very, very successful in 2010. The boys were 18-1 on the season.
Despite the staggering number in the win column, JV Coach Henry Meyer understands the Junior Varsity level is all about learning and growing as players, and that wins and losses, in the grander scheme of things, mean very little compared to what is accomplished on field in terms of growth on both an individual and team basis for these young players.
Growth is exactly what Meyer saw this year.
“What I tried to implement this year was teaching the kids how to play the game on a higher level; knowing what the opposition is going to do before they do,” said Meyer. “This took a year and a half to really come to light, but at the end of this season the guys really started to see the game in a different way.”
Meyer noted this higher level of perception and instincts includes knowing what a good running count at the plate is, which translates into the pitcher and fielder putting on a good pickoff to get the baserunner. It includes pitchers finding the weakness of batters and exploiting it to their advantage. Meyer doesn’t believe in keeping statistics at the JV level, but mentioned that these are the types of higher level fundamentals that his kids executed well this season.
Despite the leaps and bounds his team made throughout 2010, Meyer recognizes there is always room for more growth.
“There is so much that needs improvement,” he said. “Running the bases and pitchers’ breaking balls, this doesn’t get better unless you play the game.”
Although he doesn’t keep official statistics, Meyer highlighted some of the more notable numbers from memory. Colman Villa, his ace pitcher, went 7-0 on the mound with an era under 1.00.
“The rest of the rotation did outstanding as well,” said Meyer. Freshman pitchers Jake Bennett and Aaron Schiavoni and sophomore Hunter Leyser pitched for a combined 11-0 record rounding out the rest of the JV Whalers’ 18 wins this season.
Aaron Schiavoni, an 8th grader, shouldered much of the weight behind the plate as well this season.
“Aaron is a very coachable kid. Someone that would run through a wall if you asked him to,” said Meyer noting that such a quality is rare among young players today.
Emet Evjen, a sophomore, learned to play shortstop in under an hour before a game and didn’t leave that post for the rest of the season.
“Emet became a very reliable fielder,” said Meyer.
The big bats emerged in the form of sophomores Sean Romeo, Paul Dorego, Sean Hartnett and Brendan Hemby. Ninth grader Joe Faraguna showed much improvement on both sides of the ball according to Coach Meyer.
Despite the near perfect record, Coach Meyer remained adamant about making sure it was understood the success that was achieved this year is relative to the level of competition. Not to undermine the achievement in any way, Meyer mentioned more than once the only stat that really matters in JV is the record, but that 18-1 on the JV level does not translate into 18-1 at the varsity level.
“To be a team that will contend on the Varsity level, they must all pitch and develop breaking pitches, and the hitters must see live pitching to recognize curveballs and fastballs,” said Meyer.
Meyer also stated he was incredibly satisfied by his teams conduct on and off the field.
“This team was very respectful to their opponents, never showing them up when the score was out of hand, never embarrassing their school or family on or off the baseball field. That is what I’m most proud of,” said Meyer. “They started to respect the game, their opponents and especially each other.
“What this team learned this year besides the fundamentals, is how to win,” said Meyer. “Sometimes in teaching them to be good citizens and do the right thing, they forget how to win. Most great teams,” he said, “learn how to win.”