Photo by Austin Xiang

Slugging stars: varsity baseball starts season undefeated in league

Based on what senior outfielder Zach Hayward said is the team’s confident mentality, varsity baseball has started off the season 11-1 overall and 6-0 in the De Anza division.

“We’ve gone into every game with a good game plan, and we’ve done a good job of executing that as far as knowing what we want to do at the plate and then also having our pitchers be consistent and throw strikes,” Hayward said. “We’re pretty confident as long as we stick to our game plan, we’re going to be a tough team to beat, no matter what our opponent is.”

Senior shortstop Xavier Esquer said the team’s chemistry off the field has also helped its performance on the baseball diamond.

“Individually, I feed off the team (and) our team has really good team chemistry, so we know when we’re playing games that if someone messes up, there’ll be someone there to pick you up,” Esquer said. “And just knowing that allows you to play more carefree, so you’re able to just relax and play better and become the best player you can be.”

With five shutouts already this year, the team’s pitching has been both strong and reliable, Esquer said. He said the starting pitchers, bullpen and defense work well together. 

“Our pitchers understand that the guys behind them are going to help them out as best they can so they can just trust them and just not necessarily feel like they have to strike out everyone,” Esquer said. “We (have a) really strong defense so we can pick up our pitchers, but our pitchers have also done a really good job of just keeping the game simple, like not running the pitch count up.”

Senior pitcher and third baseman Danny Peters said a strong lineup from top to bottom has helped on the offensive side of the ball.

“We have some of the top players in the country, and they are great leaders for all the younger kids,” Peters said. “A lot of kids I know on the team — like the sophomores — they all look up to the big kids like senior outfielder Henry Bolte and Esquer. So they all started working so much harder, which is all due to Bolte’s credit and Xavier’s stuff.”

Despite its success, Hayward said the season has not been all smooth sailing. He said the team struggled to maintain a competitive atmosphere in the beginning of the year, where it lost its first and only game to Valley Christian (8-2).

“Sometimes our energy will slack off — in the beginning of the year, we were really flat,” Hayward said. “And for us, it’s all about the energy. It’s not just the nine guys in the field. Everybody in the dugout can really make an impact on the game just with their energy, cheering on the teammates and just being locked in.” 

The team will be participating in the nationally recognized Boras Baseball Classic Tournament in Sacramento from April 11-14, where it will face off against the top teams from California. Aside from this tournament, Esquer said the team also looks forward to its highly-anticipated matchups against Serra (8-4) on April 2, while Peters said he is excited to play in the two-game series against Los Gatos later this month. 

While Esquer said the goal of all players is ultimately to win CCS and the state championship, the team is doing their best to power through the regular season.

“Obviously, the goal is to win,” Esquer said. “If we lose one here or there, it’s not the end of the world, but obviously we’re doing everything in our power to make that not happen, and I trust our guys that it won’t happen.”