The field is quiet as the Tam and Redwood varsity baseball teams kneel around their coaches across the field from each other — Tam, smiling for a picture, and Redwood, enduring a heated lecture from behind glum faces.
Redwood lost 7-0 to Tam in their first MCAL playoff game on Tuesday, concluding their 2014 season.
“We never had the same energy as we did in the Drake game,” sophomore Zach Kopstein said, referencing their game against Drake last Friday.
They crushed Drake 8-2, bumping them from the top seed in the last game of the regular season. It seemed the Giants were peaking at just the right time.
“A lot of guys got hot at the right time,” Kopstein said. “People have been hitting really well.”
Redwood has had a fiery rivalry against Tam dating back to freshman year for many of the seniors on the team. Three years ago, both freshman teams went into a double header undefeated, and Tam won both games. This year, Tam again stole two games from Redwood, each by a mere run, in matchups that included heated trash talk from both sides.
At the beginning of the fifth inning during the playoff game, the Giants trailed by one run, a feeling all-too-familiar for the fifth-seeded squad.
The trouble set in as the Hawks capitalized on a flurry of Redwood errors, putting up six runs — all unearned — in the bottom of the inning.
Though redemption wasn’t quite gained by Redwood during their final game, their 11-7 MCAL record shows the Giants’ season was solid nonetheless.
Junior Devon Pence credits their winning season to their loose style when they play at home.
Last year, the team went 7-11 in league and missed the playoffs entirely.
“The more games we’ve played, the more experience we’ve gotten,” junior Devon Pence said.
With three sophomore starting players, the young team rapidly improved throughout the season with more and more experience.
“We developed this new mentality going into games that isn’t as much anger or pressure as it is ‘let’s just do what we do best and find a result,’ and as of recently that’s been winning,” Pence said.
Pence was hitting ninth at the beginning of the season, but in the last few games has been moved up to hit leadoff, a testament to the shortstop’s improved hitting.
Similarly, Kopstein recently regained his place in the starting lineup, seizing the opportunity by becoming one of the team’s best hitters, and by last week was hitting cleanup in the underclassmen-filled lineup.
“Personally, mid-season I changed my mindset and took a different approach,” Kopstein said. “I focused not on the result, but hitting the ball well every time. I tried to not think as much and completely clear my head every game.”