Junior pitcher Alex Von Behren lines up for a pitch in a game versus Paint Branch HS.
Junior pitcher Alex Von Behren lines up for a pitch in a game versus Paint Branch HS.
Photo permission granted by Krish Parikh

Hot bats keep Rockets rolling into playoffs

A three-decade drought ended this spring when Rockets baseball won its division, something the team has not achieved since 1991. Now, the Rockets aim to overcome a second curse and win a regional championship, which last occurred in 1988. 

For this year, Rockets define success as each player doing their part. Whether it’s batting, pitching, fielding, or baserunning, each facet of the game needs strong players to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Rockets, like other varsity teams, faced more new competitors than in previous years. In baseball, these opponents competed at lower level, which translated into more victories. The confidence boost will prepare the Rockets for the playoffs, when the opponents will prove tougher.

“Coming into the season, we had high expectations for RM baseball including winning the division and so far, we’ve reached what we set out to do,” senior Jayden Mandler said.

To ensure success, the players count on scoring plenty of runs and causing few errors to secure a large margin of victory. This also calls for good communication on the field to ensure each player knows they can make solid plays in different situations. For example, getting three outs becomes harder when Rockets pitchers throw too many balls or force fielders to make challenging plays. “Our team has been able to execute in big situations, something we struggled with last year,” senior Nate Hedgecock said. “We returned a majority of our starters, giving us many players with a wealth of experience.”

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Players point to an attitude adjustment for their newfound success. After losing a heartbreaking game in the playoffs to Walt Whitman last year, the Rockets agreed their mindset needed to change. The team determined that they wanted to leave a legacy as a winning program and team. Fostering players who want to play for the team unselfishly creates a prospering culture. “What we’re building is guaranteeing that this isn’t a one off year and that RM baseball will remain competitive for years to come,” Mandler said.

To pull it off, the seniors on the team mentor younger players to show them the standard at which they are expected to play. Becoming stronger role models creates a family atmosphere in which seniors stand ready to answer questions and act approachable. “If [underclassmen]  make a mistake like missing a ball or striking out, we pick them up by reassuring them and not saying they suck,” senior Luke Rothmann said.

As the playoffs near, even little mistakes could hurt the Rockets. Missing a ground ball or giving up too many walks can be the difference between winning a trophy or going home empty handed. The Rockets are trying to perfect their craft before playoffs. “Pitching needs to step up along with our base running,” senior Mason Roth said. “That will help our team go on a much longer run into that final stretch of the season to playoffs.”

Starting each game with a lead early and finishing strong will prove to be key for the Rockets for the rest of the season and during the playoffs. Holding a stronger sense of family on the team will keep players motivated to win games for the team and deter frustration from hurting their success. “Even when something bad happens, our teammates are able to pick each other up mentally so they can focus on the next play,” Rothmann said.


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