Advertisement

Parasiliti: All's fair in glove and war

May 19, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

High school athletes are like foot soldiers.

They register and enlist to join a team.

They go through basic training (preseason practice) to learn a level of discipline, focus and routine.

They are taught strategies and the teamwork needed to be successful in individual and group battles.

And just like soldiers, high school athletes need a commanding officer.

In the military, it’s a general. In sports, like softball and baseball, it’s a coach — sometimes called a field general.

These commanders aren’t always well liked. Their motives are often questioned and, at times, feared. It’s human nature for foot soldiers and prep athletes to buck authority, even more so in this day and age.

But generally, these generals know their personnel and their strengths. They know what needs to be done to be successful.

Local high school baseball and softball coaches have been doing their best to help their teams win the war — a state championship — over the past few weeks, and doing it in a manner that would have made another former general proud.

 “Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.” — General George S. Patton.

South Hagerstown coach Zack Swisher was in a quandary.

The Rebels had been on the short end of many battles and had a 10-game losing streak heading into the Class 3A West playoffs.

On May 10, South opened the postseason against Watkins Mill, jumping out to a 12-0 lead through three innings when heavy rain suspended the game. Rain and wet grounds pushed the suspension through the weekend.

Swisher had to formulate a plan of action. He had Airin Martin, his ace pitcher, on the mound and pitching a perfect game at the time.

The choice was whether to allow Martin, who has had bad luck all season, complete the game on May 13 for personal glory or replace him so he could be used in the next game. 

He elected to replace Martin in what became a 16-0 win in 4 1/2 innings.

“I wanted him to pitch and complete the game,” Swisher said. “He’s had a lot of hard luck. I considered it, but it wasn’t the right move for the team.”

 “I would rather have a good plan today than a perfect plan two weeks from now.” — Patton

Later that day, the North Hagerstown softball team hosted Northwood in a Class 3A West quarterfinal game and was locked in a 3-3 tie entering the bottom of the third.

Emily Getz led off with a double, allowing North coach Amanda Fleming to start a surprise attack on the Gladiators.

Fleming signaled the next three batters — Khaliah Frost, Lauren Harbaugh and Rachel Thomas, the heart of the Hubs’ batting order — to bunt.

Northwood didn’t handle the situations well, allowing the Hubs to take a 6-3 lead.

Danielle Wissinger laid down another bunt in front of the now-frustrated Gladiators in the fourth, which ignited an 11-run rally, leading to North’s 17-3 win.

“I watched them in warm-ups and saw an opportunity to get runners on base,” Fleming said. “The girls’ execution today was key.”

 “Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” — Patton

Last Wednesday, Clear Spring hosted Boonsboro in the Class 1A West region, East section final.

Having been there before, Blazers coach Mark Shives knew which buttons to push to make his team perform.

Clear Spring jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, but Shives made sure the Blazers didn’t get complacent.

“No one takes a breath … get back to work,” he yelled. “No one takes off, we are far from done.”

Shives provided a steady stream of critiques, hitting instruction and support from his third-base coaching box. The Blazers continued to respond accordingly with almost machine-like precision.

The defining moment came when catcher Dylan Stouffer came up with the Blazers leading 7-0 in the fourth with the bases loaded.

“When you’re up in these situations, you start acting all nuts,” Shives yelled to Stouffer. “Do what you do. Go up there, take a deep breath and go to work.”

Stouffer responded with a grand slam to seal an 11-0 victory, sending the Blazers to the region final.

In all three cases, coaching decisions and styles followed a battle plan, as another general recognizes.

“Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence,” said Colin Powell. “… Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”

It’s a philosophy about winning battles and living life.

On battlefields and ball fields, in battles both military and athletic, one thing is certain.

All’s fair in glove and war.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|