NEW BRITAIN ‚Äď Leadership goes a long way on any sports team, but this year‚Äôs Innovation baseball squad has the unique situation of not carrying a single senior on the roster.
With that, the Ravens‚Äô junior class has stepped up to serve as the de-facto leaders on a team that features mostly freshmen.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs different because when I played freshman year there were always seniors there,‚ÄĚ Yonathan Ramos said. ‚ÄúI was like the young‚Äôun and now all of a sudden I‚Äôm the oldest one on the team.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no seniors, you can‚Äôt rely on the seniors to do everything so I mean we‚Äôre basically, if we‚Äôre up to bat, we got to go off,‚ÄĚ Adam Renta said.
Ramos and Renta make up half of Innovations 11-grade group and have important roles every game. Batting third and fourth in the Ravens‚Äô lineup, the duo is counted on to provide the offensive punch.
Monday, neither Ramos nor Renta recorded a hit in Innovation‚Äôs 7-0 loss to Civic Leadership, proving just how important their production is.
‚ÄúIn the beginning of the game you don‚Äôt really feel that pressure,‚ÄĚ Ramos said. ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs say we‚Äôre down one and we need something, then in the back of your mind you‚Äôre thinking ‚Äėok, let me get a good swing on the ball.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúEither the top of our lineup produces or we don‚Äôt produce,‚ÄĚ Ravens coach Ben Krier said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs kind of what it‚Äôs come down to in a couple different games for us.‚ÄĚ
On the field, limiting mistakes has been Innovation‚Äôs goal from the get-go, given most of the fielders haven‚Äôt played on a regulation-sized diamond before.
‚ÄúIn my experience, it‚Äôs my first year, the team that makes the fewest mistakes seems to win more often than not,‚ÄĚ Krier said. ‚ÄúWe just got to clean up some things in the field, drive more runs in and just [find] consistency all around.
Last year‚Äôs cancelled season certainly didn‚Äôt help matters for the Ravens as that consistent output has been a work in progress this year. With the help of the juniors, instilling good habits and proper techniques during practice helps Innovation now, and also in the future.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs good because in practice you can show them and tweak [things],‚ÄĚ Ramos said. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just learning experience but it‚Äôs good to know that next year, we‚Äôre all still going to be here.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúA lot of kids haven‚Äôt even played baseball before this so for them to go and play for another two years, we‚Äôre going to be fine,‚ÄĚ Renta said.
Finding enough players to field a team was even a challenge early on, making Innovation‚Äôs improvement even more noteworthy.
‚ÄúEvery game you can see the progression from everybody else,‚ÄĚ Ramos said. ‚ÄúMore people in the lineup would be hitting than just one, two three, four. More than half of them are freshmen so, it‚Äôs a good experience to play varsity baseball.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe team that we were in our first game is a very, very, very different team than who we are today,‚ÄĚ Krier said. ‚ÄúStill growing pains because we are a young team, but we are a much, much, much better team than we were when we first took the field this year.‚ÄĚ
According to Krier, his leaders have also played an active role in the progression of the rest of the team.
‚ÄúI have been beyond impressed with the leadership that my juniors have demonstrated,‚ÄĚ Krier said. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôve really taken on a coaching role and they really want to see everybody get better. It‚Äôs been my favorite part.‚ÄĚ
Innovation (4-4) will host Capital Prep next on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.