Baseball: Richards sad to see Red Devils career end
Updated: July 3, 2012 12:08PM
Jay Richards had never played catcher before coming to Hinsdale Central, but proved to be a quick learner.
The two-year varsity starter, a senior this season, emerged as a key contributor to the program.
“I kind of volunteered to catch freshman year, and it just kind of escalated from there,” Richards said. “I was always an infielder, but once I started catching, I loved it. You have complete control of the game behind (the plate).”
Richards saw his high school career come to an end — along with fellow seniors Tom Bieber, Sam Burnett, Tom DelZenero, Michael Fikaris, Peter Foley, Eric Gnippe, Will Howson, Garrett Knecht and Sam Lucente — when Hinsdale Central (12-22) lost to Neuqua Valley 7-0 in the IHSA Class 4A Bolingbrook Regional semifinal on May 23.
“It was pretty sad to leave the field for the last time,” said Richards, who may play club baseball at Texas Christian University. “It was a good group of guys, and I’ll miss them. It was a fun year regardless of our record. We lost a bunch of games by one or two runs, and our record could’ve easily gone the other way. Our record doesn’t reflect the skill and talent that we had.”
Richards is proud of the improvement he has made, as well as that of his teammates.
“I believe, from my freshman year to now, I’m a completely different type of player,” Richards said. “I worked on hitting and fielding and trying to get stronger. I accomplished that. I think everyone improved a lot and developed through the years. Catching was something I didn’t do my whole life, but I picked it up and tried to do the best I could. I think it was a nice accomplishment for me.”
After starting the season at 6-3, the Red Devils dropped 16 out of their next 18 games before rebounding for a somewhat promising 4-3 finish, which included an 11-1 win over East Aurora in a regional quarterfinal.
Hinsdale Central lost 13 games by two or fewer runs in 2012.
“I’d say we were all pretty disappointed with the season,” said Hinsdale Central junior Bobby Skogsbergh. “When we hit well, our defense was poor. It was frustrating losing so many close games. It’s unfortunate for the seniors to go out like that. I played with a lot of those guys growing up. We’re all pretty optimistic and focused about next year. We’re already excited to get started. I think we have a good attitude about next year.”