Baseball Swings Back to Chamblee

CHS+baseball+players+come+together+for+a+team+huddle.+

Photo courtesy of Zavier Tsai

CHS baseball players come together for a team huddle.

Coco Bradford, Staff Writer

Baseball has always been a mainstay of spring sports at Chamblee, and this year is no different. Coming back from the effects of the COVID pandemic, the team is ready to stay strong through this season. So far, the team is progressing steadily and facing obstacles with team members and skills as they arise.

“It’s been going good. We started off a little slow, and we had a few injuries here and there, but I think now we’re picking up,” said junior Zavier Tsai (‘23).

With the team’s injuries and the effects of COVID, baseball has been tough to get back into, though still a fun experience.

“This year has been great,” said senior and captain Leon Cohen (‘22). “We had a lot of injuries before the season, so three of our returning seniors are out. They had either season-ending injuries before the season or during the season, which has been really tough for the team, especially to lose key starters when there’s only nine guys on the field. Losing three of them is really tough.”

However, the injuries on the team allowed for younger players to step up and take new opportunities.

 “So we had a lot of younger guys that got new opportunities which is great for the future, but there’s definitely a learning curve. We’ve had a lot of errors,” said Cohen. “Because we don’t have that strong senior class this year, we’re getting to see what the younger kids could do. There’s a kid, James, who pitched three innings against Tucker for us. He’s a freshman who normally would not have had that opportunity and he did great. He was really a star. He was put in tough situations and he came through. So, being able to see those kids take jumps early really makes me optimistic about the program in the future.”

As far as the junior varsity (JV) team goes, their experiences have been slightly rocky due to various personal and external factors.

“We play well sometimes, but there’s better teams than us out there that we play,” said freshman JV player Trigg Zanger (‘25). “A bunch of our games have gotten rained out, which sucks. There was a game that the other team showed up late, so we didn’t get to finish. [So] it’s going okay.”

The competition on the JV level is less intense, but that has allowed the JV team to do well in the past.

“We’ve done pretty good. I was on JV last year and we won the DeKalb County championship, so that was pretty fun. And then last year, varsity lost first round against Loganville, [because] they’re really good,” said junior Jack Brobst (‘23).

This year, the varsity team’s goals are mainly focused on advancing at regionals.

“We definitely want to make the playoffs, and then it’d be nice to advance in the playoffs. That just means we have to win the regional games to get a better placement,” said Brobst.

In addition, many of the team members started as freshmen and have grown through the years together, allowing them to bond and grow closer over time.

“I believe everybody that’s known each other from freshman and sophomore year, because now we’re juniors or seniors, we’ve grown together,” said junior Fabian Walker (‘23). “Back in the day, we used to not want to talk to each other, you know. And now it’s like we’re all a family.”

This has helped the team’s game and has made the team stronger as a whole.

“I would say [we’ve gotten better] because we build relationships with each other. I’d say we all grew closer and played better overall,” said Brobst.

The team’s practice and game schedule is somewhat irregular, but it keeps the players engaged.

“When we get into games, [we have fewer days of practice]. Another week, we’ll have four games in five days, so there’s only one practice a week [on the off day],” said Cohen.

The practices consist of different activities to help the team prepare for games.

“We typically start off by stretching and warming up before we get into the main part of practice. We get on the field, we do some defensive drills, sometimes like inter-squad scrimmage,” said Tsai. “It slightly varies day-to-day, but all the practices focus on what we need to work on.”

Practices are also rigorous for the JV team.

“If varsity is not there, then we just kind of do hitting, batting practice, but if varsity is there, we do either like our in and out, and then we do position drills and then stations,” said Zanger.

These practices are important, especially because they are the time when the team gets to improve their skills and technique.

“Getting out of your head and forgetting that you struck out yesterday or you made a mistake and really getting to work is something we need to ramp up. Taking practice seriously for a lot of these kids is a way they could improve not just their skill level, but wanting to get better,” said Cohen. “The practices are run well. They’re good stations, they’re good drills. It’s only two hours a day [that] a lot of these kids are out there, so bringing intensity to the games and to the practices is something we can improve on. Because you can always change how much effort you put into it.”

Continuing through this season, both teams hope to improve by working on bringing the right amount of intensity to every facet of the game.

“We don’t have that killer mentality that we need to, when the other team makes errors, to really capitalize and score a lot of runs. The coaching philosophy has definitely changed since the beginning of the season. We’re stealing a lot more bases, which I personally love,” said Cohen.

At games and practices, the players bond over the spirit of the game and stay motivated with pre-game pep talks.

“[We have] our pre-practice and pre-game talks. [And] I mean, it really just shows how close we are. We’re not just a team that just plays together; we’re really brothers on and off the field,” said Walker.

Games are a great way to support and bring excitement to the field for the team.

“It’s more hype [than you think]. Some people would think, ‘Oh, baseball, not a lot of people will be there.’ But there’s actually more people than I think. And last year, [there were] actually a lot of people. But this year, I think there’s gonna be a lot more. In the game versus Lakeside [at] Lakeside, there were actually quite a lot of people there,” said Walker.

Having an audience at the games can be stressful for some players, but it also boosts morale.

“I like when there are a lot of people at the games. I definitely don’t get any stage fright. At the Lakeside game, the whole Lakeside student section was there. We lost, unfortunately, but [the game] was good. It was good to have the spectators. It was a lot of fun,” said Cohen.

Morale is strong for the team, but when things go wrong on the field, they need to make sure they maintain that energy.

“Team spirit is good. We just got to make sure during the game sometimes, even when we’re down in the score, we got to make sure we keep the energy up,” said Walker. “Pick yourself up, even if you have a bad game.”

Overall, the team stays together and encourages each other to do well, keeping the positivity they need for this season.

“I think our morale is pretty strong even though we’ve lost a few games. I think we [still] have a really positive attitude off and on the field, so I think we’re in a good spot,” said Tsai. “We have just kind of like inside jokes and we joke around with each other. It’s just positive energy that we bring on the field. [So,] I always look forward to the school season.”