Baseball: Reavis players bond on spring trip
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media April 10, 2013 8:50PM
Reavis baseball players on their recent spring break trip to South Carolina. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 12, 2013 2:06PM
Reavis’ Richie Velez spends a lot of time with his teammates, on and off the field.
He and his fellow Rams are close, but after a spring break trip to South Carolina, maybe they’re a little closer.
Reavis played at the Hanahan Invitational from April 1 through 5.
“It really helped us as a team, and the coaches did a great job of bringing it all together,” Velez, a team captain, said. “We ate together, hung out at the hotels, had trips, and I feel like it will bring us together on the baseball field.”
This year’s Hanahan Invitational was the 44th edition. The event annually welcomes teams from all over the country. Southland teams Marist and St. Rita also were in attendance this year, along with representatives from Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio.
Having played at a similar tournament in 2012 in Tennessee, longtime Reavis coach Don Erickson couldn’t pass up the chance for a new spring break trip.
“There was an opening for us, and we had to take it,” Erickson said. “It was a great experience, and we packed a lot in. You spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week together. I took a similar trip when I was in school, and it’s one of my best baseball moments.”
Erickson’s Rams were rained out once in South Carolina but managed to get in three games, going 2-1, including a convincing 14-4 win over host Hanahan in their final game.
With only a few hours each day devoted to baseball, Reavis players took advantage, putting on its tourist caps and seeing the sites, starting with tours of the campus and baseball facilities at University of South Carolina, the 2010 and 2011 national champions, and the University of Tennessee.
Before returning to Burbank, the Rams also saw a Louisville Bats game vs. the Toledo Mud Hens. The Bats, a Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, won 4-3, with Lincoln-Way Central product Tony Cingrani pitching a 14-strikeout gem.
College or professional, the impact was made on Reavis co-captain Mike Lally.
“With the college tours at two of the best programs in the country, we saw what hard work can get you,” Lally, a senior infielder, said. “The minor league players, they’re still doing everything they can to get to ‘The Show’. It’s cool to see these great athletes working at the fundamentals just like we are.”
The trip wasn’t limited to just baseball. The Rams toured the U.S.S. Yorktown, an aircraft carrier, and the U.S.S. Laffey, a destroyer, two ships that saw significant action in World War II. The Laffey withstood and survived kamikaze attacks at the battle of Okinawa in 1945.
“It was nice to get out of the cold weather and play, but we saw a lot of other stuff, too,” Lally said. “Seeing the tours of the ships and how things work onboard, seeing the aircraft fly, it was pretty cool.”
Velez especially got a kick out of some of his teammates’ reactions.
“It was kind of weird because some of the guys had never seen the ocean before,” Velez said with a laugh. “It was kind of shocking for them.”
Returning home, the Rams defeated Oak Lawn 4-2 to improve to 6-4 overall. The spring break trip is in the books, but Lally thinks the effects will be felt throughout the season.
“Sometimes you have that feeling that people want you to fail because they want your spot in the lineup,” Lally said. “We know now everyone’s pulling for each other.”