Sophomores step up to the plate

By Mike Berman and Noah Rivkin
Published: June 2010

There is something very unusual about the Boy’s Varsity Baseball team. It doesn’t happen very often that two underclassmen play for a team on any Varsity level, but Newton South can argue on the contrary. Sophomores Reed May and John Jennings are both on the Boy’s Varsity Baseball team this year.

Reed May, who has been on the team since his freshman year, remembers how it was in the beginning. “At first, being on the team as a freshman was really awkward and sometimes I would feel a little bit intimidated by the older players, but after the first practice, it was fine because it didn’t matter how old people were, we were just there to play baseball, May said.

Now, both sophomores, the two players have been more than ready to take the next step up and play competitively with the Varsity team.

“Only being a sophomore, I can look up to the older [players] and learn from them. It’s an overall great experience, Jennings said. The two players, even though on a team full of older kids, have benefited greatly from each other’s presence. “Having another underclassman on the team [resulted in] a whole new comfort level, May said.

Another thing that the two underclassmen benefit from is their long friendship from playing together over the years. “Having Reed is a luxury because we are good friends on and off the field, Jennings said.

On the darker side of things, being a younger player on the team leads some to question their abilities. “In my opinion, my hard work and years of experience have made me good enough [to play with older kids]. My best skills would be my fielding along with my arm strength and contact at the plate, May said. May led the team in games played (20), lack of strikeouts (four), hit by pitches (four), sacrifices (five), and assists (49). May was also in the top three team leaders in triples (one).

Jennings is more of a hitting specialist. “My best skill would be hitting. This is what really makes me a good baseball player. During the offseason I try to hit at least three times a week, Jennings said. This season, he led the team in games played (20), singles (20), and fielding percentage (a perfect 1.000).

He also was in the top three team leaders in hits (second on the team), doubles (second on the team), homeruns (he was one of two players with a homerun), total bases (second on the team), strikeouts (second least on the team), defensive putouts (second on the team), batting average (second on the team), on base percentage (second on the team), slugging percentage (second on the team), and was the only player to play 15 or more games without making an error.

Some of the upperclassmen on the baseball team have also taken notice of their hard work. “They both work diligently on and off the field, senior Sam Hyun said. “Newton South is very lucky to have two players of their caliber on and off the field. The value of having young players playing at such high quality will be priceless to future Newton South teams along the road. “Reed’s defense at third base was invaluable. He made spectacular play after spectacular play. He was our most consistent fielder all season long and he saved my mistakes on more than one occasion, Hyun said. “Johnny hit over .400 and has a very strong chance at being a DCL All-Star. He has maturity at the plate, and in some cases, has more maturity than any other starter for any other team I have played for.

Even though May and Jennings were very talented, it hasn’t always been easy for upperclassmen to have the younger kids around.

“I find it humbling, being a senior on the team and [having] two sophomores on the team. Hyun said. However, now he enjoys having them around. “I can relate to them because we all started as sophomores on Newton South’s team. What is even more impressive is the fact that these two are starting on a tournament bound team, Hyun said.

When asked how they see the next two years playing out in terms of their baseball career at South, both sophomores remain optimistic and humble. “I anticipate that for the next two years at South, just like this one, we will make the tournament. I know that there are some seriously talented underclassmen that will be able to step up and make the adjustment to playing on Varsity, May said. “I see the next few years at South as a time to get better and to make it to the tournament. Jennings said.

These two sophomores show tremendous talent, and with that talent, they could do tremendous things when they step up to bat for South.

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