By John Robert
The Trenton Baseball varsity team began its 2012 season with a mission — and succeeded. The result of their efforts was a district title — and nearly advancing through regionals.
The team came flying out of the gate with an eight-game winning streak, showing early on that they could win in close games, whether they were low or high scoring, though they also beat some teams comfortably.
It was at this point they suffered two losses. Coach Todd Szalka explained “sometimes they would lose their focus, not show up, which is typical for kids at that age.”
Those two losses would match the longest losing streak the team would suffer during the season, showing that even in a sport where so many games played can cause mental lapses, this team had a remarkable fortitude to recover.
Guy Ellis, centerfielder for the team, credited some of the perseverance to Szalka.
“He was straightforward with us,” Ellis said. “He tells us what our jobs are, and lets us go do it.” The team would likely share his enthusiasm, as he called Szalka a “great coach.”
“A lot of it was the experience of the kids,” said Szalka. “We had a good core, good pitching; we were strong up the middle.” These factors all led to a wonderful year, where they ended up winning by an average of four runs in their wins.
In close games, though, their pitching was able to perform.
“They threw strikes, and we were solid all around,” Szalka said with pride. This consistent performance gave them a shot in every game they played in.
In particular, Blake Wojtala was instrumental in the team’s success. As the teams ace, “if he was on the mound, we knew we just would have to get a couple runs and we’d have a shot at winning,” Ellis explained.
He was the team’s go-to pitcher in big games, including both divisional and regional contests. In the divisional match against Grosse Ile, he threw a gem of a three-hitter to secure a close win.
The team unfortunately had one bad inning in their regional match with Chelsea. Leading 2-0, they allowed 6 runs in one inning, and were never able to recover, eventually falling 12-6.
Looking to next year, Szalka hopes they can be even better. The team will retain seven players going into their senior years, including three of their starting pitchers, and though the coach knows better than to predict how players will develop, he hopes this year will help them all improve going into next year.