Swinging for the Fences and Goals

Hayden Roberts, Staff

Lake Highland Preparatory School holds many high standards for education, extracurriculars, and sports, for both fall and spring. A popular sport better known as “America’s Pastime” is baseball: a game considered by some to be the hardest to play. However, our Highlander baseball players are not scared to step up to the plate and take a swing. Like every other sport, Lake Highland’s
baseball team strives to be the best, and in order to be the best you have to play and beat the best. Being in the Citrus League means many things like a competitive atmosphere in practice, and everyone wanting to win.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Varsity Baseball Head Coach Conner Szczerba, and when asked about his thoughts on this year’s team he said, “Obviously we are still a little bit young. We only have two Seniors this year, but the guys have been working hard, getting a lot better, [and] encouraging each other. So it’s a pretty positive atmosphere, and I’m really proud of them.” To have a positive atmosphere the team needs to share something: a goal. This team shares the same goal they all believe in, a mindset that all players have implanted in their heads: “The goal for this team is to compete to perform against it, just go out there and compete. Having a winning mentality,” said Coach Szczerba. He also went into depth about what competing means, as he explained, “On and off the field, it doesn’t mean win, it means to win [in] your mindset and your play.” Coach Szczerba during this interview was not shy about pointing out the success of his team and what they would struggle with during the season. He said, “Last year we struggled on the mound throwing a strike…our- pitchers have really made a point to work on their accuracy [and]work on their mechanics. Hopefully, we don’t struggle on that aspect again, and overall just baseball experience being a young team, but hopefully, they compete and work through that.”

Coach Szczerba is a firm believer in his team’s chemistry and how it helps his team on the field. Chemistry on his team is an important factor, as he noted, “The chemistry has been great. Coach T has done a great job even having that chemistry in the weight room, [which is a] competitive environment. Going against each other and holding each other accountable, I think all that plays into the team’s chemistry.” Being a coach of a well-respected team can affect a coach’s mindset, but not Coach Szczerba. He explained, “I try to push this team every day, and I don’t really have to because they do a great job of it on their own.” With every different team comes a different mindset. Coach Szczerba had this to say about this year’s mindset, “Win the little things. If you win the little things consistently, then you are going to win the big things.” Coach also believes in the leadership rule and has strong trust in his Seniors to lead the team, because, “My two Seniors have done a great job, leading by example. I expect them to continue to lead this team.” We all look forward to upcoming victories, and seeing what this team of Highlanders have to offer.

(Above) Coach Connor Szczerba explains the next drill to his players. Coach Szczerba was planning game-like situations for his drills in practice. The team needs to be prepared for game time scenarios and perfect plays the best they can.
(Above) Landon Towns, grade 10, practices a game-like situation, throwing the ball from his shortstop position to first base. This is a very important skill to practice because the shortstop must always be ready to help his team get an out.
(Above) The team warms up their arms by throwing and catching the ball on one knee. This helps the players build up their core and arm strength while practicing the basic fundamentals of baseball. All photos by Tina Zhang. (All photos by Tina Zhang.)