By Shailey Klein
Two months ago, the Oak Hall baseball program didn’t know if there would be enough players to field a varsity team. Now with one week left in the regular season, the baseball team holds a 9-4 record with losses only to P.K. Yonge and St. Francis Catholic.
The Eagles are led by seniors Andrew Pickens, Matthew Leber, and Levent Eldem. The trio was celebrated for senior night on April 7 before facing the Hawthorne Hornets at Roger Maris Field. Reaching the run rule in the fifth inning, the Eagles dominated the Hornets 10-0 after opening up the game with six runs in the third inning, sending the seniors out with a memorable victory.
The underclassmen on the baseball team have benefited from the leadership of the seniors this season. Freshman Harrison Beach especially appreciates how the seniors have mentored the younger players throughout the season.
Despite the departure of these three key players, the future is very bright for Oak Hall baseball. Under the guidance of Head Coach Kevin Maris, the team has a plethora of young talent with plenty of time to develop over the next few years. “I believe that the young core of our team is in good hands with Coach Maris and Coach Hill, and they will do really well over the next few years,” Leber commented. “Our team is mostly freshmen, so they have definitely contributed to our success this season,” he added.
The Oak Hall baseball program has the additional benefit of fielding a middle school baseball team to introduce young athletes to the sport and give them game experience before reaching the varsity level.
The Eagles’ district consists of St. Francis, Aucilla Christian, Redeemer Christian, and St. John Lutheran. The last meeting between St. Francis and Oak Hall went down to the wire and resulted in extra innings. Unfortunately, the Eagles fell short after the Wolves sealed the game with three runs in the ninth inning. The Eagles are prepared to potentially take on the cross-town rivals again in the district tournament after the heartbreaking loss earlier this season. “I’ve loved competing with the guys and I’m really excited about what we can do in the postseason,” Pickens stated. “I really think we’re going to turn some heads,” he added.
The Eagles play its last home game on Thursday, April 22 at 4:15 p.m.