The season is rapidly winding down for St. Ed’s baseball, with five games remaining on the schedule starting this Wednesday against Florida Prep Academy on Senior Night. The home finale is this Thursday at 6 p.m. against Fort Pierce Westwood.
It’s been a season of inconsistency for a team at 5-4 after walloping Palm Beach Lakes, 14-4, last week. The roster is top- and bottom-loaded with seven seniors, five freshmen and a lone junior.
“Most of the seniors have been around for four years, but we are still a mostly inexperienced team,” head coach Jim Peters said. “A lot of them don’t play travel ball, they just play here, so I actually have about four or five really good, seasoned players.”
A 4-3 loss to Glades Day in late March illustrated that point. Peters said, “I ended up with four seniors, a junior and four freshmen on the field. So we have a lot of youth that has taken over. The freshmen are coming on and they are getting a lot of playing time. They play back and forth on the junior varsity team where they can pitch and get some experience. When they play for the varsity I’ve settled them into regular field positions.”
The seven seniors bidding adieu to St. Ed’s are typical of the state of the program at the present. The home stretch is always time to reflect, but leading off in that regard is a father and son combination.
“It’s been fantastic,” Jim Peters said about coaching his son Tyler. “Not many guys get to coach their son as long as I have – from little league, through travel ball, to here. He actually came up to the varsity and played in sixth grade when we didn’t have a middle-school team. When he leaves here he will probably have played more games at St. Ed’s than any other player ever has.”
That’s seven seasons together, so more than the usual display of emotion will play out on Senior Night for the Peters family.
“He’s a great dad, but on the field he definitely turns into a coach,” Tyler said. “I don’t really see him differently on or off the field, especially the way he deals with various situations. He’s been my coach since I started playing baseball. He has always been there and taught me everything I know about the game.
“A lot of us are out here just trying to have fun while also trying to win. At this point I don’t think I will be playing baseball at the University of South Florida. I never started playing baseball thinking that I wanted to play in college. It was always something I did for fun in high school.”
The highlight of the season so far for Peters was his complete-game, 4-0 shutout of Master’s Academy. In that game fellow senior Tommy Nelson went 2 for 3 with an RBI.
“I’ve been playing baseball all four years in high school,” Nelson said. “I think it’s something special about St. Ed’s that I’ve had the opportunity to compete and play since I was a freshman. I play third, first and I pitch for us. I try to help the team anyway the coach figures he needs me.
“Offensively I bat third so I take it upon myself to try to get on base, and when my teammates put me in the position, I try to get an RBI or two. I will bunt if needed, and if I have the opportunity I will try to put one in the gap.
“I will be attending Clemson University and I’m excited about that, but I won’t be playing baseball anymore. I think it would disrespect the Clemson program for me to even try, but I’m flattered if anyone thinks that I have a shot there.”
The other seniors saying farewell are Nathan Cote, Edward Baucom, Dez Haigler, Ryan Motto and Dylan Toomey. Junior battery specialist Jackson Jennings emerges as the leader-in-waiting for 2018, but that’s not a consideration just yet.
“When I’m not on the mound I’m the catcher, ” Jennings told us. “I throw two- and four-seam fastballs and I like to mix some curves and changeups in there as well. I can make adjustments if something is not working.
“Every day we work on the skills we need to get a little better as a team. We’ve had some ups and downs this year. We’ve lost to some pretty good teams and stayed in games with some others. We’ve got a good young core to go with all of our seniors. I see us winning out from here.”
After the two-game homestand this week, St. Ed’s – playing as an independent with no postseason playoffs – finishes with three on the road.