THHS baseball team knocks it out of the park

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Last year, the Townsend Harris baseball team accumulated a 9-5 record during the regular season and made it to the second round of playoffs before losing to Richmond Hill High School. Despite their success, the team came in this year hungrier, setting the bar higher and betting on themselves to surpass expectations.

“This year is our year. Our goal is to get to the championship and play at Yankee Stadium,” said junior Nile Johnson, articulating the sentiment of many on the team. With their zeal to win the championship, the Hawks crushed Flushing Campus in the first game of the season, winning with a final score of 13-4. But after this bold win, the team stumbled on their quest, losing the next seven games in a row by a net score differential of 24 runs.

With the rest of the season looking dire, the team could have given up and dragged themselves to the end of the season. Rather, they came together and maintained a positive attitude. Suraj Jain, one of the five seniors on the team, helped the team get past the slump by mentoring the underclassmen: “The best advice that I have given underclassmen is that in order to succeed as a baseball player, you must put the past in the past, work hard to overcome difficulties, and play in the present.” Despite their losing record, Suraj and the team remained upbeat, knowing that “baseball is a game of failure and mental strength.”

This mindset of moving on and remaining positive paid dividends: the team then went on a 7 game winning streak, a large part of which can be attributed to the development of the underclassmen. Reflecting on the progress the underclassmen have made, Suraj said, “There were underclassmen who could barely swing a bat at the first practice, but now are making contact in actual games.” This drastic improvement is what makes being part of this team so special and enjoyable.

Senior Brian Ooi stated that the most enjoyable part of this season was “seeing everyone helping and challenging each other everyday at practice. Compared to where we were at the start of the season to where we are now, everyone has improved so much and as a team we are more confident, which has been the key for turning our season around.” Regardless of the obstacles and failures the team faces, the positive attitude and work ethic of the team reassures them that they will indeed perform better as the season progresses.

With the last home game to end off the hard-fought regular season, the team went onto defeat Forest Hills High School in a very low-scoring game of 2-0. Suraj pitched a seven inning fourteen strikeout shutout and said, “it was one of my best pitching games ever.” All that said, this game was paramount in solidifying the true grit of this team as it was symbolic of never losing faith in a cause that is greater than any individual player. The seniors understood that their season and their four years on the team had culminated to this game and never once thought about giving up because they sought to set a precedent of tenacity for the underclassmen. They instilled the ideals of ambition and team success through leading the team, despite the grim odds of making playoffs just weeks earlier when they sat six games below .500. Going on a 7-1 run is not an easy feat that the team will ever look past. It will be a season that the team can only look back on for inspiration and concrete proof that the seemingly impossible can be made feasible.

After the team fell into the 1-7 hole, many wrote off the team, thinking that there was little hope of making the playoffs. The team, however, persevered and has finished off the season with an 8-8 record. Prepared by the obstacles and triumphs of this season, the team brought this same resilience to the playoffs. “We’re a resilient team that has what it takes to win and hopefully that means winning it all,” said Nile.

Unfortunately, the team’s playoff berth was soon ended by Richmond Hill High School, which went onto win 14-4. This playoff exit does not take anything away from the team, but rather reminds the underclassmen and rising leaders that it is their time to step up. The seniors are saying their farewells to the diamond, hoping it is in good hands.