The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

August 2, 2013

Hitting keys Kings march to semifinals

By Scott Levine
Herald Associate Editor

---- — Clinton High School’s victory Wednesday proved a point that I’ve long believed is the biggest key to high school baseball — hitting.

It’s nice to have solid pitching, and in the professional ranks, I still believe starting pitching is the best avenue for championships, but in high school baseball, putting a bat on the ball is the most important aspect of the game.

Just take a look at Wednesday’s win against Ankeny. The River Kings racked up 10 hits and tallied six earned runs. The final score of 10-8 was aided by errors by the Hawks, something that is commonplace in high school baseball.

By being able to put the ball in play, Clinton put themselves in the position to get on base. Let’s face it. Baseball is hard. People say parenting is the toughest thing they’ve ever done. Those people obviously haven’t tried to hit a 90-mph fastball, and then turn around and see a nasty curve ball.

It’s the toughest sport to be great because there are so many variables. Misjudging a fly ball, a bad hop or losing focus for a split second can be the difference in an error and routine play.

Major League baseball players are pros for a reason. They don’t make mistakes in the field. High school kids are still learning the game, and even the best high schoolers will make some errors. Even Clinton suffered from the error bug in the sixth inning, but battled back to preserve the win.

Teams can’t make errors if the opposing players strike out. Just ask Clinton hurler Ryan Driscoll who took it upon himself in the seventh inning, striking out three in a row to give Clinton its first state tournament victory since 1970.

And another victory isn’t out of the question when Clinton faces Sioux City East today.

I doubt Sioux City East will be fooled by Clinton’s record now. The River Kings stumbled a bit in the regular season, but they’ve found their stride at the right time.

Even during those tough times during the season, Clinton still showed the ability to hit, something that many around the community (including me) said made them dangerous in the postseason.

That’s the kind of team that creates excitement around a program. Too many teams are content with having multiple batters step up to the plate, looking to draw a walk. Not Clinton.

There are multiple guys who can hit anyone and if they can’t catch up to a fastball or get fooled by a curve ball, they will go down swinging. That’s a rarity anymore in high school baseball, something that puts the River Kings program in a situation where this year’s success may not be a blip on the radar.

Instead, this may just be the start of an emerging program. But first things first — getting past Sioux City East and setting up a chance to become only the second team in Clinton history to win a state baseball title.

Vacation Bible School

On a personal note, it has been bittersweet sending my daughter to Vacation Bible School this week at First United Methodist Church.

On one hand, my daughter is growing up too fast and looks so grown up in her official T-shirt. But, she won’t stop talking about the fun she has each night and it’s great to see her participate in some of the things I remember from growing up.

The volunteers at the church do a great job with all the kids and my family has thoroughly enjoyed all the stories my daughter has told us on her way home each night.

Now, we just have to get ready for preschool...which will be here in just a few weeks.

Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at scottlevine@clintonherald.com.