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Worthington VFW Baseball: Confidence is the key to success

WORTHINGTON -- In the game of baseball, there are many things that can be learn through practice and repetition.

However, one of the most important components of a successful baseball player and a great baseball team is something that cannot be learned, but has to come from within.

"The biggest difference between our team this year and last year's squad is that the kids are a lot more confident," Worthington VFW Post 3958 coach T. D. Hostikka said about his team. "They know what to expect from both me and the VFW baseball season. I think that is why they are playing with so much confidence right now."

Worthington finished the regular season 19-10 last year and currently boasts an 12-5 record through 17 games this year.

"We lost three 16-year-olds from last year's team, which means the rest of our starters from that team are still here," Hostikka said. "These guys got a lot of playing time last season and that is showing in the way they are playing right now."

Not only have the older players improved their game from last season, but they have also taken on a bigger, more vocal role as leaders of the Post 3958 team.

"This group of 16-year-olds has become pretty good leaders this year," Hostikka said. "They have taken on the role of being leaders and are more confident because of it."

Along with being more confident, Post 3958 has also improved on its team defense from a year ago.

"The biggest improvement on the field for us so far has been our defense," Hostikka said. "We have played much better than we did last season and have committed fewer errors as a result."

The improvements on the defensive side of the ball have allowed Worthington's pitching staff to do what it does best, which is pitch to contact and let their teammates make the plays behind them.

"We don't really have a standout pitcher, but we do have four or five guys who can throw the ball well," Hostikka said. "Our pitchers are at their best when they pitch to contact and allow our defense to make the stops defensively."

On the offensive side of the ball, Trevor Wietzma, Roque Soto and Turner Hagen have all been leading the charge at the plate for Worthington.

"Trevor has a pop to his bat and he has been leading our offense at the plate," Hostikka said. "Roque has one of the best swings on the team and is not fooled by anything that is thrown at him. And Turner has a knack for putting the ball in play."

Wietzma is currently hitting .429 with two home runs so far this season.

Another weapon in Post 3958's offensive arsenal is the speed Logan Thuringer brings to the team's running game.

"Logan is a huge disruption on the base paths," Hostikka said. "He is so fast that it is hard to throw him out. Teams have found it hard to even throw him out on bunts; he just can't be thrown out."

As a team, Hostikka doesn't see any glaring weaknesses in this year's squad. Should an older player go down with an injury or find themselves in a slump, Hostikka is confident that any of his younger players have the ability to step right into the lineup.

"The 15-year-olds could be in the lineup if they weren't competing for time with the older kids," Hostikka said. "Just because they are younger doesn't mean anything. There is no fall off talent wise between the older and the younger kids."

At the half way point of the season, Worthington is sitting in a good spot, but the second half of the season will not be a walk in the park.

"We have a big game [today] against Marshall Blue," Hostikka said. "They are one of the top teams in the conference and how we play against them will go a long way to show how good we are as a team."

After facing off with Marshall Blue, Post 3958 will participate in a tournament in Marshall next weekend and then take part in another tournament the next week in Alexandria.

"If everyone does their jobs and we take care of business for the rest of the season, we should be okay," Hostikka said. "We are hoping to be one of the top four seeds come the post season. I think we have the potential to make a playoff push if we can continue to play the way we are right now."