Oak Ridge baseball has jump-started this spring with a current record of 5-7, which already surpasses their total wins of four from the previous season. Of those wins, the Bluejays recorded one win in the Oak Ridge Invitational Tournament, which took place April 13-15.
As for the tournament, the Bluejays knew what they needed to do at the plate. Over the three games in the tournament senior third baseman Camren Volz led the team in runs batted in with a total of five.
Alongside Volz’s runs, sophomore right fielder Kaden Borgfield contributed four RBIs throughout the tournament including one double and one sacrifice fly.
Not only has the team been faced with success but also adversity. The Bluejays started the season with a large bench, but it continues to shrink due to injuries.
When the Bluejays faced Perryville, freshman second baseman Landon Burnett experienced a hip injury that put him out for the season.
More recently in the team’s second matchup with Delta, sophomore catcher Grant Meyer suffered a compound fracture right below his knee and unfortunately will not return this season either. However, he did go out on a triple.
On the third day of the tournament, one could tell the players weren’t in the right mindset after Meyers’ injury Friday night. Volz said, “We’re really worried but focused on the game, we’re just trying to play for them.”
Oak Ridge head coach Robert Friese is still optimistic for the season regardless of the injuries so far.
While statistically Meyer produced four RBIs and had zero errors as the team’s starting catcher, Friese is confident his team will pick up where he left off. “We’ll overcome it, it’s like the old cliche next man up and that’s what it’s going to have to be,” Coach Friese said.
A huge part of Oak Ridge’s success on the bases has been due to star batter junior Konnor Hobeck. He has a shocking batting average of .585 and has only been struck out a handful of times in his whole high school career. Hobeck has already had 24 hits in the 12 games the Bluejays have had this season, including three doubles and 10 RBIs.
The speedy junior Hobeck also leads the team in stolen bases with a total of nine. When Friese was asked about speed on the bases, he said, “It’s refreshing, it opens up our offense so we can do a lot of things like run and hit and it seems to get the rest of the team going.”
On the mound, the Bluejays have three reliable pitchers who are able to bring something to the table every night. Sophomore Cohen Hahs has pitched a total of 22 innings for the Bluejays and leads the team in strikeouts with a total of 24, eight of those batters struck out looking.
Volz also pitches for the team and only gave up one run in the Bluejays 7-1 win over Bell City. When asked what it’s like transitioning from third base to the mound, Volz said, “With pitching you get everybody involved in the game, and it isn’t all about you. It’s about setting up your teammates for success.”
Last year, the Bluejays finished their season with a record of 4-16 including one postseason victory against Lesterville. This team hasn’t had more than five wins since the 2018 season, making this the most wins the current senior class has ever had.
“I feel like everyone has gotten more comfortable with each other and our team chemistry is good,” Volz said. “I think we have become more comfortable playing high school baseball.”
The future of this team is bright as there are a total of 10 underclassmen on the team. Of those underclassmen, one player, sophomore shortstop Landon Overbey, has been able to help the team out on the bases with an on-base percentage of .643, and a shocking total of 11 plays where he has been hit by a pitch.
“They’re young, and we’re going to have to develop as the season goes on for us to be successful in the postseason,” Coach Friese said.