While the San Francisco Giants are in balmy Scottsdale, Ariz., reminiscing and shaking the dust off their recent World Series trophy, the Kennedy Eagles baseball team has been under Bay Area clouds working hard on shagging fly balls and fielding grounders. First-year head coach Tim Logan said for the past two weeks his team has been practicing nothing but defensive fundamentals.
But the ABCs of a 6-4-3 double play have turned into rocket science for Kennedy the past few years. According to Max Prep Sports, since 2004 the Eagles have a combined record of 3-130. Make it 3-131. On Saturday, Kennedy lost an exhibition game to Bethel High in Vallejo, 11-1.
Senior catcher Jacob Qualls, who’s shipping off with the U.S. Marine Corps after the school year, said he expects this year’s team to have more success. “I’ve been playing with most of these people for a while—be it baseball or football—so there’s a lot of chemistry,” he said. “We’re all good friends here. There’s not going to be any conflict. We all know how to deal with each other pretty good.”
Even with all the losses, Logan said Kennedy baseball is entering a new era with a new philosophy. “I’m not looking for wins and losses at this point,” Logan told his players as they huddled outside their dugout prior to the game’s first pitch. “What I want to see from everybody is 110 percent effort: Chase down every ball; keep every ball in front of you; make good throws and hit the cut-off man. I’m not looking for anything special—just basic baseball.”
In the top of the seventh, catcher Mark Carroll, took his coach’s plea personally and popped up a bunt for an infield hit to load the bases. The bunt wasn’t textbook, but it was the type of effort Logan was looking for. For the game Kennedy had two hits.
Between innings, Logan gathered his players near the batter’s circle and told them his impression of their efforts. “That was a good relay,” he told his players after they threw a Bethel runner out at the plate. “But one thing that’s a pet peeve of mine is never let the ball drop in front of you. That is unacceptable to me. If you can catch it—catch it!”
After the game, players took a knee in right field and listened to their head coach’s postgame analysis. “I was very proud of y’all with that defense,” he told them. “That just let’s me know we’re very competitive defensively. There aren’t going to be a lot of teams that beat us because our defense is too good.”
Kennedy’s next game is February 26 at Mount Diablo High in Concord.