Making His Mark
by Dave Ricci, Sports Reporter - Metro Source
As he stood in the batters box for his first official varsity at bat, Max Hyland (Grand Island) admits that for a split-second he wondered what he'd gotten himself into.
"Yeah, they blew it right by me, first pitch," Hyland said with a chuckle.
"My first time at bat I struck out on three straight pitches, but everyone said don't worry about it and they brought (my spirits) up and the next time I actually got a hit."
A freshman in his first season with the Nichols School baseball team, Hyland may have had a bit of an eye-opening welcome to varsity, but he has more than enough skill and desire to not only compete but also excel.
While having a freshman on varsity is somewhat a rarity for Vikings baseball, the fact that Hyland is already starting at the demanding position of catcher is a testament to his ability and work ethic.
"Catching is really the toughest spot out there other than pitching. So I think he's getting more comfortable being part of the game, trying to direct people, let them know how many outs there are, what the situations are," said coach Larry Desautels.
Making an indelible impression on the Vikings coaching staff, during the team's spring training trip to Florida, Hyland explained it was the welcoming feeling from his teammates that allowed him to feel at ease and play his best.
"The seniors really helped a lot, the captains (Matt Donahoe and Tyler Tokarcyzk) just gave me a lot of advice. If I made a mistake they'd bring me back up, that helped a lot," said Hyland.
"On the field when they say nice play, it makes you want to try even harder."
Working hard to get his batting up to par for the varsity level, Hyland's greatest asset is his versatility as he can effectively play second base, outfield and pitch.
While the label of starter is always attractive and something to be proud of, Hyland knows regardless of where or when you play, true value is measured in the pride you feel in a job well done.
"Wherever they need me I'll play as long as I'm where the team needs me," said Hyland. "I really don't have a preference. If I don't like the position I'm playing, I'll suck it up for the team."