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UC Baseball Team Overcomes Last Season’s Losses

Senior Jacob Freedman gets ready to swing at the pitch.

Senior Jacob Freedman gets ready to swing at the pitch.

Kyla Esquivel

Kyla Esquivel

Senior Jacob Freedman gets ready to swing at the pitch.

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   Bouncing back from a tough season, the winning and cohesive culture UC High’s Baseball Team had created was unquestionable, and it drastically improved statistics all around. After a 6-21 season, the team moved from Division Two to Division Three and moved into the City League from the Eastern League.

   According to an official high school sports statistics website, this year’s team finished with an overall record of 19-12, and with a team batting average of .303, which is above the national average (

   Head Coach Richard Frink explained, “Leadership, camaraderie, and the belief that we could play with anyone and win was the biggest difference [from last season].”

   Adding on to crucial differences from last season, Senior Co-Captain Jacob Freedman said, “This year, we just had a lot more fun. We built off of wins, and we played more as a team. Team chemistry was vital to the huge change from last year to this year.”

   Junior Co-Captain Anthony Nelson stated that this year the team chemistry and camaraderie really came together. “I also think practice was being taken more seriously, and we put in a lot more effort, compared to last year.”

   “Last year we just started losing games early and everyone got down. We stayed defeated all year. This year, it was much different. We were much more resilient. We would lose a game, come back, and win five, lose again, come back, and win another five — that’s just how it had been working. We were just bouncing back from losses much better,” stated Freedman.

   Junior Left Fielder Colin Ruthenberg indicated the team’s motivation to not give up when recalling four walk-off wins from this season. “Last year, we were accepting the fact that we were losing, and this year, since we were winning, we were a little more confident about everything. It just seemed like we had some swagger to us,” added Senior Relief Pitcher Chris Lynch.

   According to the Maxpreps website, this year’s Baseball Team took a big win against San Marcos High, the reigning champions of Division Two in the San Diego Section. This happened in the Bill Whitaker Tournament in early March, which also gave the team a confidence boost very early in the season, according to Lynch and Nelson.

   Ruthenberg explained that along with a shift in intensity and cohesiveness, the mindset of every player changed, as everyone had a desire to win each game. Frink said, “Building a winning mentality was key. The players were buying in to what coaches were preaching, and they went out and executed during the games.”

   Ruthenberg mentioned, “[Last season,] everyone was more in it for themselves. A lot of people just cared about their personal stats, not team stats.”

  According to Junior Third Baseman Christian Wood, another attribution to the success of this season was the focus at practice: “We had been going at it in game speed and treating everything like it was a game.”

   Nelson explained, “Every practice we did the same defensive drills. We also focused a lot more on hitting this year. The main emphasis for hitting was maintaining a middle approach, and for defense, it was to not get in our own heads.”

   Freedman contentedly stated, “Defensively, we were really sound — very few mistakes in the infield, no mistakes in the outfield, two solid catchers. Offensively, we were really productive.”

   Ruthenberg said, “One of the main things coach had been saying was, ‘Get the next guy up.’ I think that was a big thing — not focusing on trying to get a big hit every time but trying to get on in any way to help the team score.”

      Nelson added that another big strength during the season was the pitching staff. Frink stated, “Our starters [Senior Zac White and Senior Isaac Wolfkind] went deep into games and pitched well, but we also relied on some clutch performances from other pitchers, including Senior Co-Captain Eric Waldichuk, Senior Reliever Chris Lynch and Senior Reliever Tyler McKinney.”

   As much as the sport of baseball is a physical sport, it is much more of a mental challenge. “If you get in your own head and you’re not supportive of your teammates it’s like a feedback loop where as soon as one person starts getting down, then it affects another person, and then he’s down. It’s contagious. It spreads throughout the entire team, and the mojo goes down. We did not want that. We always went in with the mindset that we knew we could beat the other team, and we just had to play hard,” stated Nelson.

   Wolfkind explained, “If you rely on only yourself [as a pitcher] to get the job done, then you won’t be successful at all. Being a pitcher essentially means you have to trust your defense, and if you can’t do that, then you won’t be successful at all.” Trust is very essential in any team sport.

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UC Baseball Team Overcomes Last Season’s Losses