Players lead baseball team to success

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Used with permission from Megan Shimek

Players stand against the fence, ready for the game to begin.

Aidan McKee, Reporter

On Wednesday, May 18th, the sun beat down on the red brick of Revere’s baseball diamond, a battle between the Minutemen and Fighting Irish of St. Vincent-St. Mary took place. The game was the second of a playoff run that would advance the winner to compete for a district title. As the third inning dawned with a stagnated score of 2-2, tensions were palpable. Seeking to break clear of the rut, Ryan Shimek stepped up to the plate. 

Since a loss late in the playoffs in 2021, the team fought to get back to this point. From summer workouts to batting clinics in the winter, everything has led to this moment, and Shimek has helped to lead the team through all of it. Only a year earlier, Shimek watched as the team’s hopes of a state championship had slipped away on the very same field he now stood at-bat. Since then, everything has been about getting back to that point, and he would not let it slip away. As the pitcher begins his motions, it is clear what is coursing through Shimek’s head, and as the pitch comes zipping down, he uses it to send the ball careening over the outfield fence.

Shimek’s home run would provide the momentum necessary to propel them to an 8-3 victory over the Irish. Other key performances included a great game from the plate by Ben Halvorson and an errorless game from the field, all of which helped propel the Minutemen to victory and another chance at a district title.

The Revere baseball team has worked for a year to get back to the playoffs. Senior Ryan Shimek and Juniors Ben Halvorson and Nolan Wolf have each had their own experiences as part of that journey. They all share the same ultimate goal, however, these experiences have helped the team reach the playoffs again and possibly take their combined dreams further.

Even aside from his performance against St. Vincent-St. Mary, Shimek feels he has had a successful senior season. Shimek leads the team with a 0.514 batting average, and with a double on Wednesday, his 15th of the season, Shimek broke the single-season double record. He spoke on what he thinks has been his best quality this season.

“I would say that batting has been my best area this year. While being able to say that I lead the team in batting average is great, I think that that is only a partial plus. Since I have been able to get the job done when it matters, the team can rely on me when we need a hit, and that has been helpful this season,” he said.

Being someone the team can rely on is something that Shimek appreciates, but he also realizes the responsibility of it. He explained that he has used his position to impact the team from a leadership standpoint. 

“I think pretty early on this year I realized that I would need to be a leader of this team. Having gone through my senior year of football and being a captain [of the football team] gave me a preview of what needed to be done here. I know I am an important part of this team, and I use that to help motivate everyone to work harder,” he said.

Part of his motivation for this season was his experience last year when Revere also made it far into the playoffs. After a close loss to Archbishop Hoban High School,  their hopes of a state championship ended. Now Shimek stands in the very same position that the seniors did last year, and he explained what effect that aspect has had on him.

“As with any other team, the program behind it is what makes it shine. I don’t know if the talent of the previous class is really what won us games, but undoubtedly their attitude did, which was special. The way they approached the importance of the team and each other was a special thing that we have hoped to replicate to succeed this year,” he said.

While he is playing in the final games of his high school career, Shimek is going to continue his playing career in college at Ashland University, a commitment he made prior to this season. Knowing that he was going to the next level has had an impact this year. He explained that impact.

“Having already committed to play college baseball is definitely influential to my season. It is very nice not to have to worry about playing hard enough to earn a scholarship this year, even though I still tried to put in the effort as though I did. But since I am going to play college ball, people do look up to me, so I have had to try to live up to that expectation,” Shimek said.

Another key aspect of the win Wednesday was a defining pitching performance by Junior Ben Halvorson, who surrendered only three runs on seven hits over five innings and struck out six. Pitching is something that has always been a part of Halvorson’s career. He explained that impact.

“Since youth ball, I have always been a pitcher. Something about it just made me fall in love. Whether it be the internal competition between you and the speed of your throws, or just the variety of different throws that come with it or the smallest differences in technique that can wind up, making a big difference is pretty cool. I also like how you sort of manage the field when out there,” he said.

Many struggles can arise around pitching, and when playoff implications are factored in, the pressure can even further mount. Due to this, pitchers often carry strategies that help to lessen the load. Halvorson explained how he faces the challenge.

“Pitching a playoff game is unlike anything you can do in the regular season. One bad game on the mound could put an end to your season and let down the entire team. This is a scary thought. On the other hand, the excitement of winning is also something you have got to be worried about as getting too excited could lead to us playing worse,” he said.

Nolan Wolf is a junior who was a part of the zero error fielding that contributed to one run after the third inning. That success was not new to Wednesday’s game. Wolf explained how success has driven the team throughout this season.

“While the regular season may not have shown that we were an incredibly successful team, behind the scenes we have had a lot of success. I think that has been shown in the first two games of the playoffs where we have been continually counted out, and then proven ourselves time and again,” he said.

As Wolf closes out this season of play, he looks toward his senior year and how he hopes to continue the program’s legacy. Similar to Shimek, he experienced the class of 2021’s success and now has seen the current senior classes leadership. He shared how he looks to harness the examples of prior classes into how he handles his own senior year.

“The example set by both of those classes is a high one to reach toward[s] but definitely one that is necessary. For this program to continually succeed, it is essential the team pushes itself. As long as the younger classes can understand that, I think we have a strong chance of being very successful for many years to come. I hope that I can continue that,” he said.

The Minutemen played their district game on May 23rd, and lost 3-0. Despite the loss the team still reached a higher destination than once expected, and attained an amount of experience that will help to drive the team next season, that progress driven by the commitment made by Shimek, Halverson, and Wolf  which has impacted the program for good.