They’re killing it Smalls

Varsity baseball tries for 3rd consecutive State title

Chloe Browning, Staff Writer

For the past two years, the baseball team has earned the 6A State title, and they are hoping for a three-peat. No one in 6A State history has ever done this. The varsity team has 19 players, which consists of 15 seniors and 4 sophomores.

All of the players are hungry for the win, but that hunger comes with tremendous pressure as well. Tate Gillen is one of the sophomores who made the varsity team this year.

“[It is] pretty cool, but the same time it’s kind of nerve-wracking because people know how hard it is to be on varsity,” Gillen said. “There is definitely pressure knowing you’re on a team that’s won two consecutive State [titles]. You know there’s always that target on your back.”

Gillen has played baseball since he was just 5 years old, and he has found a passion in it as he even goes to extra training at Building Champions after practices.

“I take lessons at building champions after practice,” Gillan said. “it’s not a practice, it’s only 30 minutes so, it’s just conditioning. It’s just hitting and I work on my swing.”

First baseman senior Patryk Hernandez and catcher senior Walker Kinney are the only two players remaining who were part of both the 2017 and 2018 State teams. They are both going into their last season with a positive outlook for the sport they love.

“I think we have more talent than we have ever had,” Kinney said.

The team this year is an interesting mix considering that it’s only sophomores and seniors.

“We’ve had sophomores on the team before,” Hernandez said. “I just make sure they know that we care about them and know that we’ll have their backs no matter how good or how bad they do.”

These guys truly make a connection that sticks on and off the field.

“I still talk to all the seniors from when I was a sophomore [and] I still hang out with all the guys from last year, too,” Kinney said. “I know some of my best buddies from baseball. I can’t wait to get that bond with this year’s team.”

For the majority of the team, this is their final opportunity to win a State championship.

“For a lot of us seniors, we know that it might be our last game ever,” Hernandez said. “Just getting to play with them [and] seeing how far we can get is awesome.”.

Hernandez has made it very far since his sophomore year when he made varsity for the first time. He said the team has helped him reach life-long goals.

“I have committed to play baseball Emporia State,” Hernandez said.

Several other seniors on this successful team have now committed to colleges as well. Hopes on winning State again this year are high, and the team looks forward to the rest of the season with a strong cheering section rooting them on.

“We have an awesome fan base,” Hernandez said. “As you can see from last year and the year before at State, we’ve always had support, and they’ve always had our backs.”