Despite hiccups, JV baseball reaches playoffs

Originally published on April 23, 2015

Freshman Alex Bradshaw fires a pitch in the baseball team’s 5–4 loss to Riordan on April 11. Photo by Leonard Caoili

If there’s one thing Lowell JV baseball knows, besides baseball, it’s sustained dominance. The Cardinals have won the Academic Athletic Association JV Baseball Championship in five of the last six years, and all signs pointed to another uncontested stroll down victory lane, as the team cruised to easy wins in the first five AAA games of the 2015 season.

But in an unforeseen setback, the Cardinal juggernaut briefly skidded off-track with a disappointing 8–5 loss to arch-rival Washington on March 25 closely followed by a 6–4 defeat to Balboa on April 6.

After three consecutive years of undefeated league play, this unanticipated development caught the Cardinals by surprise. But the team quickly regrouped and went on to reclaim their usual supremacy on the field by crushing Galileo 21–1 in the very next game.

“They’re starting to give 100%, and I think the heart they have is starting to really show.”

The Cardinals have continued their usual relentless march to the AAA playoffs with a 10–0 drubbing of KIPP in their next to last regular season game on April 13. The Cardinals were able to carry that momentum over to a 3–0 victory over rival and fellow division leader Washington on April 20. The Cards will play their first playoff game against Balboa on April 24.

With a 8–2 league record, and a playoff spot clinched, Lowell JV players and their coach paused to reflect on a successful, yet unexpectedly challenging baseball season.

JV Coach James Burke remains confident in the abilities of his players, despite the recent setbacks. “They all know they have a lot of potential–I tell them every day,” he said. “And they’re starting to reach that potential, they’re starting to give 100%, and I think the heart they have is starting to really show… and they’re going to be a really strong team at the end of the year because of it.”

Coach Burke is especially encouraged that his young players consistently choose to practice for hours on Saturdays. He believes their “greatest strength right now would have to be the amount of effort and heart they have as a team.”

Freshman infielder Devlin Stanley receives the ball at third base on April 11. Photo by Kenny Dzib

The coach particularly wanted to acknowledge the two team captains, sophomore starting catcher Martell Coleman and sophomore pitcher and infielder EJ Warren. “They’ve done a great job leading the team, bringing a lot of energy to the team, pumping up the team, and they have a loud voice that everybody looks to on the team,” Burke said.

Warren was equally appreciative of Coach Burke’s contributions. “He helps our team by inspiring us to work hard every single day, and to get better at what we do so that we can achieve our goal of winning the championship,” Warren said.

As a Lowell alumnus and former Lowell baseball player, Burke is uniquely familiar with the high level of play that Lowell baseball players are expected to perform at, according to sophomore outfielder Henry Bender.

Bender further noted Coach Burke’s confidence and trust in the team, which helps the players achieve their peak potential.

“We got back on track by coming to practice the next day with a certain energy and fire.”

Warren said that the surprising losses to Washington and Balboa have not stopped the Cardinals’ forward trajectory towards the championship. “We got back on track by coming to practice the next day with a certain energy and fire that isn’t really explainable,” Warren said, adding that the whole team was determined to work hard and address what went wrong in those games.

With this renewed commitment, motivation and effort, the Cardinals were able to return to their usual level of play to trounce Galileo.

Humbled, but not cowed, the Cardinal JV baseball squad continues confidently on course, with players and coach united in their determination to uphold tradition and emerge as AAA champs once again.

Freshman pitcher Michael Lee throws a pitch in the Cardinals’ loss to Riordan. Photo by Leonard Caoili