Skyline Baseball Swings For Success
May 05, 2016 12:45PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Holladay - For Skyline High School’s baseball team, the 2016 season is just starting to pick up.
“We’re doing OK this season,” head coach Erik Hansen said. “We still aren’t clicking on all cylinders as far as hitting, but our defense is coming around. We have a lot of guys in the right places and they have come forward to finish out strong in several games.”
Hansen had to essentially restructure the Eagles’ varsity team this season after graduating seven key players last year. Though it took longer than expected for the group to find their groove, Hansen is confident the boys are on the right track to success.
“We came out a little slow at the start of the season against Olympus, but we’ve been getting better every week, which has been really fun to watch,” senior captain Wilson Battle said. “We’re coming together and starting to play good baseball.”
Reflecting on what held the team back at the beginning of the season, Battle thinks it was a matter of getting used to playing with new teammates, in new positions, and becoming a confident, established team.
“I feel like we were a little tense and not really treating it as a game, but more of a job,” Battle said. “Then we started having some games where we came back in the last innings and just had fun. It seemed like everyone was loose and relaxed and we just kind of knew we would get the job done.”
As the Eagles entered the second half of the 2016 season, camaraderie improved and wins starting coming easier.
“We’ve definitely loosened up a bit and our performance has improved as a result of that,” Battle said.
Though being a winning team is the ultimate goal for the Eagle, establishing themselves as a unified team is a matter of great importance to both Hansen and the players who represent the Skyline the program.
“Our team unity is something we always work on outside of practice,” Hansen said. “This year we have also been really focusing on fundamental baseball and improving our defense.”
As head coach of the Eagles for nine years, Hansen is no stranger to rebuilding and restructuring the team. When he first started in 2007, the Eagles lacked consistency in their success.
Since then, however, Skyline has had seven winning seasons, more than 130 wins, the program’s first state title and three region titles. Moreover, Hansen has helped 18 players go on to play college ball after graduation.
“I think that, more than anything, being a head coach here has helped bring some consistency to the group,” Hansen said. “We have winter work outs and weight lifting and I think that alone has increased dedication.”
Along with hard work and dedication from the players on his team, Hansen feels confident in the leadership displayed from his three team-elected captains.
“I have a good group of guys leading this team,” Hansen said. “They have their style of leadership that I think has been very positive with the guys and I think they’ve been great so far.”
Leading a predominately young team has been an experience for Battle, who has committed to play baseball at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota in the fall.
“It was really helpful to learn from the seniors last year and see what worked for them,” Battle said. “But this year the three of us captains work really well together and we really make sure we’re trying to do what’s best for the team.”
With a substantial amount of baseball yet to play before the season comes to a close, Battle has high hopes that the team made strides that will lead them to success. And with valuable lessons learned along the way, the Eagles are sure to finish out this season with hard work, and a healthy dose of fun.
“The biggest thing I learned this year is that you’re not going to play well if you’re not having fun,” Battle said. “If you’re having fun and treating it like a game, baseball will get so much easier and, interestingly, you’ll have more fun.”
The Eagles play their last home game against Cyprus High School on May 6 at 3:30 pm.
Skyline High School
2351 Upland Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84109