As most sports fans know, the baseball season carries with it a specific kind of grind, the type that requires precision, accuracy, smarts, and heart on a day-in, day-out basis. Major League Baseball players attempt to bring those qualities to 162 games every year; the high school season is a bit shorter, around 40 games per regular season, but the challenge remains the same.
“Some days you might just not be feeling up to playing a double header in the heat or practicing inside because of the rain,” said senior pitcher Brendan McGinley. “But the big prize of winning a conference title and making a deep run in the playoffs helps motivate me to bring maximum effort day in and day out on the baseball diamond.”
That is exactly why the team has Coach John McCarthy, the young, enthusiastic, second-year leader of the hard-hitting Crusaders who refuses to settle for anything less than 110% effort from his team. Since day one, McCarthy’s fiery attitude has been contagious, epitomized by the banner in the dugout which reads, “The Team, The Team, The Team.”
“Coach Mac has a very passionate attitude towards the game of baseball,” said McGinley, who also played wide receiver on the varsity football team. “He tells us to enjoy every moment together playing because it’s the greatest game on earth and you never know when it could be taken from you. He obviously loves to win, I mean who doesn’t, but along with winning he wants us to have fun while doing it.”
With this being the second year Coach Mac and his staff have worked with many players, it is not surprising that there have been a few changes made in their approach.
“Our coaching staff is tougher on this team than last year’s group,” Coach Mac said. “Our 2013 group understands our staff and expectations for Crusader baseball. We expect more out of them and want them to play tough baseball.”
The varsity baseball squad has played twenty-two games thus far, and has won fifteen of them, including victories over Lincoln-Way Central, St. Joseph, and Marist. The team rode a five-game win streak recently before losing their next three. However, with back-to-back one-run victories over Providence Catholic, the Crusaders have now won their last five. Coach McCarthy knows how far his team can go.
“There is a ton of room for improvement. We continue to bond as a team and try to figure out our identity,” he said. “We need to continue to get better as we still have not reached our full potential. As we continue to build confidence, we should be hitting our stride by the end of the year.”
If that is the case, then the Crusaders will be at their best against their tough upcoming opponents, which include St. Rita, St. Laurence, and Montini. With eleven games left, plus the Banjenski Tournament, it truly is anybody’s ballgame.
“Our goals are simple: to play our best baseball at the end of the year,” said Coach. “We need to continue to get better and strive for excellence every time out on the baseball field.”
The Crusaders will most certainly strive for excellence when IHSA Regional play begins on May 20.