Newcomers help fuel baseball squad this season


Tom DiGrispino

Robert Richardson pitches for the Pirates this season.

After graduating nine seniors last year, the baseball team is looking for newcomers to help power the team this season.

Only four players with varsity experience are returning this year.

Senior Colin Early, one of the team captains, is worried about the lack of experience, but excited about everybody’s ability and energy.

“They fit in well, and they adapt quickly,” Early said of the new varsity members.

Senior Robert Richardson, another captain, thinks having a young team isn’t necessarily bad.

“The hard part is just trying to get them up to speed with varsity, but as the season goes on we will be able to progress and grow as a team,” he said.

Coach Joey Traina agrees with both of them.

“It’s honestly a good feeling that there’s less people with varsity experience because we are building a program and starting with freshmen where we get to have them at the varsity level for four years,” he said.

The season began with two tough losses, a 6-7 loss to Hobart and a 4-5 loss to Washington Twp.

But Richardson said the more the team practices together the more they build together.

“They will be able to get the speed eventually,” he said. “It won’t be that big of a difference and also helps them further down the line, when they are seniors they get to teach the next wave of kids to come in.”

Early believes the key to success is staying committed to the process and giving it their all.

“Don’t get down on yourself cause there is always going to be the next game or play,” he said of his advice to the players. “Just keep your head up and move on, don’t let one small thing affect you for the rest of the game or year.”

Richardson said having a good mindset and understanding that baseball is a sport that you will fail 70 percent of the time.

“It’s OK to fail and just to work together as a team to build up our flaws so when it comes Sectional time we are ready,” he said.

Early said the newcomers are adjusting quickly and coaching them isn’t hard.

“We all coach the younger players and new players and help them develop, so they can teach people when they are seniors and juniors,” he said.

Richardson said when they coach they try to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

“[We’re] trying to help them learn the different plays, different aspects of high school baseball,” he said, “and just trying to let them understand it’s OK to fail.”

Coach Traina said the two seniors captains are doing great at being good mentors, but juniors Brady Barnett and Tre’von Stephens are doing great as well.

“Our juniors Brady and Tre Stephens, who’s new to Merrillville, are really stepping into leadership roles and pulling young guys aside and showing a certain drill and technique and really making sure they are learning the game of baseball instead of experiencing it,” he said.

Coach Traina thinks the team’s chemistry is great.

“It’s a great team, culture, atmosphere, and the team’s chemistry is the best that it’s been since I’ve been here,” said Traina, who is in his first year as head coach. “This is a really tight group, so I’m really surprised to see how close everybody is becoming all together as a whole.”