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Recap of Team Vukovcan’s 2024 Coaches Pitch Season and Quick Thoughts on Each Player

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Most times, I use this space to recap games around Hopewell that I’ve just watched.

However, I’m going to throw a bit of a curveball with this particular recap.

Instead of telling you about a game, I’m going to recap a season in which I was fortunate to coach a great group of boys in the Hopewell Youth Baseball League.

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Last night, my Coaches Pitch Team wrapped up their summer season as we lost an exciting game to Team Holsinger in the playoffs.

As I mentioned to our players throughout the season, and they were probably sick of hearing it but it’s true. I truly wasn’t worried at all about wins and losses, it was 1000% about the kids improving individually from the start of the season till the end, along with them having fun and enjoying the game of baseball.

There’s plenty of time for them to be competitive in sports but now’s not the time to worry about who won a 7–8-year-old kids pitch game.

I want to start by thanking and congratulating the parents of the kids on our team. This group of 10 boys were very well behaved all season, they listened to all of our coaches, took well to coaching and had the proper attitudes when things didn’t go well or when they struggled.

I mention this because we know doubt had the youngest team in the league, having only 2 eight-year-olds and 3 players that were playing up. The rest of the boys were just 7-year-old and playing their first full season of Coaches Pitch, which is a huge adjustment.

The thing our coaches were no doubt impressed and encouraged with was the progress all the kids showed in the batting box. While we struggled to make outs in the field, each and every kid got a ton better hitting the baseball. I attribute some of the defensive play to the age of the kids. It’s tough when you’re 7 years old and younger to react and do everything necessary to make a play in the field. I have no doubt that will something they improve upon as they get older.

Here are the kids that I was fortunate enough to coach and a quick thought or two about them this season.

The future is no doubt bright for a lot of these players as they continue to play baseball.

Brody Tournay: I’ve told him and his dad this a number of times throughout the year. I saw Brody play last year and the jump in skill level that he made from last year was HUGE. In fact, IMO, no one advanced from last year to this year more than Brody. Was one of most consistent and dangerous batters as the season advanced.

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Bryce Bell: When you talk about great attitudes, no one epitomizes that more than Bryce. I can’t remember a time when he didn’t have a smile on his face. Great kid to coach because he did whatever was asked of him. Bryce also got better as the year progressed and he has a great left-handed stroke.

Emmett Metzger: The E-Man! One of our younger players but continually was able to put the bat on the ball, which is the key at this age. Has a nice, smooth swing. Remember E, keep those feet planted and don’t dance at the plate!

Gage Powell: Another young player that decided to play up. From our first practices inside at the Junior High till last night’s final game, Gage made as much progress as anyone at the plate. Being so young, Gage just has to remember to swing hard at all times. When he was able to do that, his swing looked good. Keep working at it Gage, can’t wait to see you next season!

Grayden McNally: It’s hard for me not to smile when I mention Grayden, who has to be one of the most enjoyable and fun kids to coach. Like with Bryce Bell, Grayden is ALWAYS in a good mood and will do whatever a coach asks him to do. On the field, Grayden has the potential to be a really good player. Has the arm and the glove to make plays in the field and knows what he’s doing in the batter’s box. Grayden can hit and as he gets older, is going to be able to hit for power. Would love the chance to coach him in the future.

Hayes Singletary: Hayes was one of our younger players, but you couldn’t tell that when he was hitting. For a large portion of the season, we had Hayes as our leadoff hitter. The reason for that was because he’s fast and put the ball in play, which put pressure on the defense to make a play. Has a nice short, compact swing, which allows him to make so much contact. Hayes was a kid that we put at a lot of different positions, and he did well for us. He’s someone I can see making a big jump next year. We appreciated that he did whatever the coaches asked him to do.

Jonah Honess: It was a pleasure to coach Jonah this season. It was very evident from our first practice, that Jonah had big-time ability and he showed it throughout the season. Most kids this age don’t ask coaches to pitch the ball harder to them but Jonah did. Hated slow pitches. He was one of a couple kids on the roster that were capable of hitting the ball deep into the outfield. On defense, Jonah rotated a lot between shortstop, first base and center field. Can pretty much play anywhere you want him to on defense. Jonah has big-time ability, and I can’t wait to watch him next season as he advances to kids pitch.

Levi Button: Everyone cheered for and rooted on Levi! Everyone got better on our team and that definitely included Levi. We worked a lot with Levi on his swing and as the season progressed, the work paid off as he started to make contact with the ball. No doubt, one of the highlights of the season was when Levi got his first hit. Everyone in the dugout exploded, cheering for him. I can also remember a couple games where he was robbed of some hits by defense from the opposing team. Keep working Levi and I hope you return next season!!

Tristyn Trkulja: Tristyn is definitely someone that came out of his shell from the start of the season to smiling and enjoying the game at seasons end. In terms of power, Tristyn has as much power as ANYONE in the coaches’ pitch league. When he swings level and keeps his head down, he smashes the ball as Coach Singletary can personally attest to. Tristyn is going to be an intriguing player to watch over the next few years because of his potential and the power in his swing. The next step in his development as he advances to kids pitch next season is to have a more consistent glove at first base and being able to harness his big arm.

Dominic Santamaria: Dom wasn’t a regular on our team but was our “11th man” and we called him up for games in which we were short a player or two. For being so young, Dom has a tremendous batting stroke and is so aggressive at the plate. There is no fear in that kid. The impressive thing about Dom is that you’d never be able to tell from watching him swing that he wasn’t a regular coach’s pitch player. This experience will help him out next season when he moves up.

Will Vukovcan: Yes, this is my son but as always, I’ll be objective. Will is another player that made a big improvement from last season. When I talk about improvement, I’m not talking about him being an All-Star player, I’m just referring him to being able to throw the ball a lot better and to occasionally make a play in the field. The throwing is what I’m most pleased about. At the plate, like all kids he struck out, but Will did a nice job of making contact and over the last few games, was hitting the ball harder and farther. At the plate, he just has to work on the level swing and not lunging at the ball, stay back and attack it. Trust me, we’ll be working over the summer.

I truly had a great time coaching these kids and if I’m fortunate enough to get a team next season or in the fall, I’d sign up to take all these kids back. The Future is Bright!

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