A perfect season

Published 7:49 pm Thursday, December 17, 2009

One year after winning two fall ball games, Holland Athletic Association’s Pinto baseball team went a perfect 10-0 this fall. Head coach Ryan Praither, who’s coached most of this group for three years, chalks the undefeated season up to how much his players love the game.

“They just eat and sleep baseball. It’s non-stop. They want to go to Sluggers and they want to constantly be out there,” said Praither.

The Holland Reds won only four games in the spring season, but following the PONY season, the baseball didn’t stop. Since everyone on the team wanted to keep playing, said Praither, the Reds continued practicing through the summer and joined a Nations Baseball league with teams from Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

Nations Baseball is another coach-pitch league, similar to Pinto League in PONY, but the rules are closer to older levels of baseball. The competition was a step up for the Reds, too, but playing throughout the summer made big differences.

“We used it for extra practice, and to keep having fun,” said Praither.

“We didn’t really expect what would happen,” Praither said. For example, at the plate, where Praither said he had six or seven steady hitters before, by this past summer and fall, all 13 Reds were consistent sluggers.

“It’s from working consistently on their skills and they surprised all of us,” said Praither.

“The kids took it upon themselves really. They just want to be out there. Even right now, they’re asking me when practice is going to start. I’m having to tell them, ‘let’s wait until it gets warmer.’” Praither said.

Registration for the spring baseball season at Holland Athletic Association is set for the last weekend of January and the first weekend of February. Praither said the league is hoping to add four more tee-ball teams and two more Pinto teams this season; in part because of the construction of new lights by the spring season.

Along with the perfect record in the fall ball season, the Reds got to try out new ideas ahead of next spring, such as moving players around to positions they might not have tried before. Praither’s had mostly the same team since this group started out in tee-ball.

The Holland Reds are: Zachary Stroud, Zachary Simpson, R.J. Andleton, R.J. Rennie, George Rennie, Nylan Martin, Cole Praither, Austin Bradshaw, Chris Artis, Wyatt Simpson, Noah Coyler, Nolan Mehalko and Jeffrey Peacock. Along with Ryan Praither, the coaches are Ronnie Simpson, Mitch Rennie and Curtis Mehalko. Praither also thanks all of the parents as much as his assistant coaches.