Spring preps spotlight: Summit High’s Turner McDonald, Brian Hessler and Andrew Shaw
Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series on spring high school athletes. Read on for part one and part three with soccer, track and field, girl’s lacrosse, boy’s lacrosse and boy’s rugby.
It’s tough to find a rhythm when you can’t play or practice on real, green, snow-free grass.
For most of the season so far, the Tigers baseball team and boy’s lacrosse team have been forced to spend nearly all of their practice time inside at the Summit High gymnasium, practicing formations and taking batting practice in a venue more than half the size of the real thing. It’s like the difference between putt-putt golf and a round of 18 — you just can’t get a sense for the size and style of play.
But, with spring storms starting to wind down, the two teams are hoping for a turnaround after a rough start to the season: baseball is 0-6 and has played only away games, while lacrosse is 2-4 with losses to both cross-county rivals, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley.
With warm days ahead, the Summit Daily sports desk caught up with three of the Tigers best ball players for a look at the season to come and, of course, all the weird superstitions baseball players love.
Turner McDonald, No. 1 Tigers baseball (SS, RHP)
At 15 years old, sophomore Turner McDonald is already one of the most promising players in the Tigers starting lineup. He’s been playing for 10 years and now excels at shortstop, where he has incredible range and a cannon of an arm. He’s also a monster at the plate and boasts a lofty .364 average with eight hits, five RBIs and four runs in six games.
First baseball memory: Right as I stepped out on the baseball field I fell in love. I love the competition of the sport, and every guy has an opportunity to give it their best shot and see what they can do with their opportunity.
My baseball career highlight: Well, I loved just getting to prove myself time in and time out, every time I step out on the field, whether it’s in practice or a game.
My favorite memory off the diamond: Training with my dad has to be my best off-the-field memory. He always pushes me to go that extra mile and just improve in any way possible.
If I weren’t playing baseball…: It’s hard not to see myself playing baseball because it’s been a part of my life for the majority of my life, but if I had to choose it would probably be track because I’m pretty fast.
Pregame meal: I don’t really have a specific meal before a game, but I just like eating sunflower seeds before the game in the dugout with my teammates.
Post-win celebration: I like celebrating with my team, but it has to be breaking down the game with my dad and going over what I did well.
Pump-up music: Gosh, I like a lot of music. I guess it just depends on the mood I’m in that day.
My pre-game ritual: Before every game I watch this video to motivate me and get me ready for the game.
Biggest rival on the ball field: I don’t know if I have a big rival. I just take every game seriously and get in the mindset that we’re going to kick this team’s a**.
Brian Hessler, No. 7 Tigers baseball (C, 3B)
Junior Brian Hessler is the kind of hitter who demands respect at the plate. In six games, the 16-year-old recorded a team-leading .421 average with a .500 OBP. He hasn’t quite converted that average into RBIs with just one on the season, but there’s still plenty of season to go.
First baseball memory: My first time playing baseball was when I was 8 and I was in machine pitch. Right away I knew I would love this sport. My favorite part was hitting and I think it’s what has kept me coming back all of these years.
My baseball career highlight: Last year, when I went 6-6 and we killed Eagle (Valley High School) in both games by double digits.
My favorite memory off the diamond: I have always really enjoyed practicing and especially with the seniors from last year. I got really close to them and it was fun to spend time with them.
If I weren’t playing baseball…: I would probably be playing basketball because it is another one of my favorite sports, or I would be skiing.
Pregame meal: Probably spaghetti with bread.
Post-win celebration: After a big win I like to either go out to dinner with friends or teammates or go out for ice cream.
Pump-up music: Probably any kind of pump-up music or hip-hop.
My pre-game ritual: I don’t really have any lucky clothes or pre-game rituals, but I am very superstitious. If I don’t play well I won’t wear the same socks or undershirt for a very long time, or if I strike out I will not use the same bat again.
Biggest rival on the ball field: Probably (my) teammate, Andrew Shaw. We like to compete with each other and push each other to be better every day. As for a team, I think my biggest rival for both basketball and baseball is Battle Mountain.
Andrew Shaw, No. 3 Tigers baseball (LHP, 1B)
Sometimes, a 0-6 record doesn’t tell the entire story. Junior southpaw Andrew Shaw has dominated opposing hitters in just about every start this season, but high school pitchers rarely go beyond the fourth or fifth inning before pitch-count limits force a swap, and, unfortunately, his bullpen hasn’t been able to hold a lead. The 17-year-old junior now hopes to continue dominating in the back half of the season.
First baseball memory: The first (time) I ever played baseball I immediately fell in love with the sport and have been ever since. The fun and the friends I had in the sport in the beginning and still have to this day keep me coming back, but, even more than that, I have never had more of a passion for a sport than baseball, despite growing up playing other sports and being active.
My baseball career highlight: Seeing the progression of myself and my teammates, from small freshmen to now being leaders on the team.
My favorite memory off the diamond: Riding in the short bus going to and from games, because being with your team — the guys you’ve known forever — and bonding is hard to beat when looking back on my two years.
If I weren’t playing baseball…: I would probably be running track because I’m not to bad at distance running and doing a sport is way more productive than anything else I could be doing.
Pregame meal: When it comes to food before a game, I don’t have a favorite food I like to eat. I just like to eat a lot of food no matter what that food may be.
Post-win celebration: Hanging out with my friends and teammates and just having fun.
Pump-up music: While working out or getting hyped for a game my music is generally hip-hop/rap, but I like to mix it up now and again.
My pre-game ritual: Every time I pitch I wear stirrups, which is something that I started this year and I have been pitching pretty well all year so I’d say it isn’t hurting.
Biggest rival on the ball field: As a team our biggest rival is Battle Mountain, but we compete against all of the teams in our league and I like to think of them all as our rivals.
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