Oak Park Baseball slides into new season

Program gains new varsity head coach

“New coach, new beginnings,” sophomore and varsity shortstop Cole Murth said.

Oak Park baseball started off their season with a 3-4 record and high hopes for the future. The team shares their successes with new varsity head coach Jeffrey Smith. Smith has coached at Oak Park for the previous five seasons as an assistant coach on the freshman-sophomore team, head junior varsity coach and an assistant varsity coach.

Smith is particularly excited to coach at Oak Park because it is his alma mater.

“Being a part of the community I grew up in is a huge part of why I am here. All four of my kids attend OP schools and my wife grew up attending OP schools. OP is our community and one we are very proud to be a part of and represent,” Smith wrote to the Talon.

The team is focusing on building team chemistry this season by doing various team bonding activities. Before the season started, the team had dinners on the baseball field. In an interview with three of the starting varsity players, they noted that the bonding has helped on the field.

“We are more of a unit … we play for each other,” sophomore and varsity second baseman and pitcher James Pernin said.

Along with a new coach, the team has a young “starting nine.”

“We are a [made up of a] young squad … with six starting sophomores,” Pernin said.

Smith noted that he believes their season has started off well.

“We won our first tournament and have competed in our first couple league games,” Smith wrote.

Smith has big plans for the baseball program, but also thinks it is also important to prepare the players for life off the field.

“I want to continue the tradition of previous coaches and teach young men how to succeed both on and off the field, learn how to properly represent our community and high school,” Smith wrote.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus has closed OPHS indefinitely leaving many unanswered questions for spring sports.

“I believe the season is most likely over. However, I am hoping to put the team in a summer league if it all possible,” Smith wrote.