Grateful Pats embarking on new journey

Photo by Jimmy Lafakis/The Herald
Heritage Hills junior JT Smallwood takes a swing in a hitting drill during a recent practice in Lincoln City.


LINCOLN CITY — April marks the dawn of a new era for baseball junkies around the world. As the spring blooms with hope, Heritage Hills head coach Andy Fischer takes delight in the fresh beginning.

“It’s been really nice,” Fischer said. “The boys have been excited. They’ve been working on fundamentals since the beginning of January, so it’s been really nice for them to get out.”

The Patriots feature sizable depth across their roster. Junior JT Smallwood and senior Lane Spencer will see time at the middle infield positions. Seniors Brenden Bryant and Eduardo Sandoval provide their experience in the outfield. Juniors Ty Schaefer, Austin Hill, Gustavo Sandoval, Evan Bowling and Colin Pruitt bring their acumen to the table.

Young talent fills out the group — five freshmen and a team-high eight sophomores will suit up for the Pats this season.

“I think a lot of the teams are in the same boat,” Fischer said. “With everybody having to take off a whole year, I would say a lot of teams are going right back to the fundamentals. Hopefully, we’ll build upon that quickly.”

Sports such as football, basketball and wrestling help the student-athletes get their bodies in shape for the spring season. The 1998 graduate played football, soccer, basketball and baseball at Heritage Hills, so he encourages the Pats to expand their horizons.

“I always tell people to be multi-sport athletes,” he said. “It helps their bodies to mature and also helps them with their quick-twitch muscles. Every sport is different with what they’re using, so it’s just helping their bodies out. For them to play other sports, it helps with experience.”

Last spring put the game in perspective for Fischer and the Pats. The head coach imparted some words of wisdom on the young players.

“I tell the boys, ‘Savor every minute of it, because I would do anything to go back and play with my high school buddies again,” Fischer said. “I played college baseball, but that’s not the same. You’re playing with your boys. You’re playing with whom you grew up playing ball with from Pee Wee all the way up. I tell them, ‘Enjoy every moment. You never know when it could be possibly taken away from us.’ Last year was a prime example of it being taken away and not being able to enjoy a year with your teammates.”

Fischer teaches engineering courses at Heritage Hills. When he distributed the team’s baseball jackets, he encouraged the Pats to wear them with pride.

“When I see them walking in the hallways, I’ll give them a little wink or a little fist bump,” Fischer said. “They’re part of an elite group. They’re representing the Heritage Hills baseball program.”

Heritage Hills will face Northeast Dubois at 6 p.m. Friday in Dubois.

“Our goal is to get better every time we walk on the field,” Fischer said. “It’s never changed. We’ll get better and try to play the best fundamental baseball we possibly can. Hopefully, the wins will take care of themselves.”

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