Everyone loves the winner! After all, you play to win the game, don’t you? The thrill of competition is a motivator for many but the dessert to this meal is the victory. The emphasis is more pronounced with every level that you climb and with that the amount of pressure on players and coaches rises as well!
The Bridgeport baseball program has been no stranger to wins ever since Head Coach Robert Shields took over. Shields is a winning machine earning a pair of State Titles during his tenure. The first came in 2000 and the Indians are currently in the midst of defending their second championship from a year ago.
Heading into this season the Tribe had to replace eight seniors that set a high standard with not only lofty numbers but also more significantly leadership.
Well let’s take a gander at where the leadership really comes from. A closer look points directly at the skipper. At the end of every fruitful season several key components are lost to graduation. However, there is never a down season for the Indians, as they always seem to reload instead of being forced to rebuild. Sure Bridgeport is a hot bed for talented baseball p layers and there should be a great deal of credit given to the youth programs that put these players on the right track. But Shields is the coach that puts all of the pieces together and conducts the train. Baseball is a thinking mans game and that is why Shields is so successful. He is a bear for detail and his mind never takes a “seventh inning stretch”. He is always trying to come up with a way to gain the advantage for his team. He puts pressure on opposing coaches before they get to the ballpark because they know if they want to win they are going to have to earn it. There are no easy wins to be found when playing the Tribe. A 32-win season in 2014 is proof positive.
This year’s edition has jumped out to a perfect 15-0 mark. To add to the impressiveness of this undefeated start is the teams that have been roughed up by the Tribe. Most recently, Class AAA powers Jefferson, Martinsburg, and Hedgesville have fell victim to the Indians. Shields knows that the regular seasons main purpose is to prepare his squad for postseason play. Every season he will wait just a little longer before starting the schedule so that the Indians have a better chance of building momentum at the end of the campaign and they will have room to add even more practice games during the lengthy lull that comes once tournament play starts.
This year’s roster resembles that of an all-star group. Joe LaRocca, Hunter Mann, Houston Morris, and Zack Hineman are seniors that have led by example. Hunter Fain added an emotional boost when he returned from an injury that kept him away from the diamond in 2014. Dante Bonamico and Elijah Drummond have also been major contributors to this teams’ success.
Pitching is a key component that every championship team possesses and Shields has some dynamic hurlers in his stable. Logan Smith, Sam Aloi, Hunter Haddix, Morris, Jared Cleghorn, and Tanner Furbee are some of the usual suspects that could be found toeing the rubber for the Tribe.
There aren’t any holes in Bridgeport’s line up and to make matters worse for the opposition, the Indians typically get better as the year wears on. With all of this being said, a repeat could just be in the cards.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God bless!