2020 has been an interesting year for everyone, especially in the world of high school sports. Specifically, the baseball season was cut short this past spring making coaches adapt and improvise to provide playing opportunities for their players.
Hernando High Leopards players and head coach Tim Sims have been putting in the work and are making big moves already. While training hard for their upcoming 2021 season, the players are already thinking of the distant future as well. Four Leopard players have already committed or signed to college teams and they expect many more to come during the spring season. Coach Sims comments, “Success at Hernando is not defined by wins & losses. Success is defined by how hard you work and grow as a young person through winning and losing. In baseball, both will happen to you and these young men below have an opportunity to continue to mature and develop both on the field of play and in the classroom at the college level in the future.”
Here is a run down of the 2021 HHS baseball players who have taken the next step in committing to a college team.
Trent Manor plays the positions of right-hand pitcher and outfielder and is currently signed to West Virginia Wesleyan where he will be studying biology (pre-med.) He was noticed through his own efforts of contacting colleges and finding different ways that he can still be recruited. Some of his baseball background includes playing for Hernando Youth teams, some great travel teams as well such as The Florida Burn, and now Hernando High. He has always played outfield starting young in HYL (Hernando Youth League.) He was a two-year starter on the HHS JV team as a freshman and sophomore. Coach Sims predicts that Trent will be a two way player for WVW. He adds, “Trent is also an excellent pitcher for us as he has pulled some tough relief innings for us on varsity in 2019 and 2020. Trent is a player that has improved his performance on the field and in the classroom for us every year and his best playing days are definitely ahead of him.” He shares that he enjoys meeting new people the most, as they play teams from out of state as well as neighboring teams. “Along with the team travels, whether it’s in a hotel or cabin it’s always an enjoyable time with your friends and family. I am most proud of being able to say I’ve been to multiple World Series and played against some of the best talents in the country,” Trent shares. His current goals are to prepare himself mentally and physically for the year to come. There is always room for improvement in his playing skills, and like the rest of the team, he hopes that they make it all the way through this spring.
Dylan Schatzel plays the position of catcher and is committed to Thomas University where he will be studying business management and cybersecurity. He was noticed through reaching out to colleges through Twitter and emails, as well as assistance from coach Sims and his connections. Schatzel started playing for HYL when he was 8 and then joined travel ball teams at age 11. Coach Sims comments, “Dylan is as good a catcher as I have had come through my program in 25 years; arm, size, bat, toughness, and baseball IQ. I look forward to how his senior year will progress for us in the spring. Dylan is a threat at the plate and will be hard-pressed to keep on the bench at the next level.”
Dylan remarks, “I enjoy being out there on the field behind the plate doing what I love. I’ve made some good friendships throughout this journey playing youth league, travel ball and now high school. Baseball is something I play because it’s my passion and that is an achievement and something I’m proud of.” Dylan’s current goals are to work hard and prepare himself for baseball at the college level. He hopes to cherish and make as many memories with his teammates as he can. He hopes for a good spring season and they make it all the way to the end.
Riley Fisher plays the positions of left-hand pitcher and outfielder and is committed to Thomas University where he will be studying business management. He used various social media like Twitter to contact college coaches, as well as participating in college showcases. Some of his baseball background includes playing for Spring Hill all the way from kindergarten through 8th grade, as well as a few travel ball teams during the summer and fall seasons. Then after moving, he joined the Hernando High team in 9th grade. He states, “the things I enjoy most about baseball are the friendships and bonds I’ve made along the way. My love for the game is very strong, however, nothing tops the feeling I get when I am on the mound. The passion I have for pitching is unmatchable.” Fisher plays the game the right way and is another player that improves every time he steps on the field. Coach Sims stated that Fisher, “throws strikes, changes speeds and is a winner. Has been a pleasant surprise with the bat as well. He provides energy to our team every time he takes the mound.” His current goals are to strengthen and hone his skills not only for the spring season but for the college level as well. “Also I don’t want to take advantage of the time I have with all of my teammates. I want to enjoy every achievement, big or small and soak up every second I can before we all go our separate ways,” Riley concludes.
Dylan Duphily plays the positions of shortstop and right-hand pitcher and is signed with St. Johns River State College where he will focus on getting his AA and studying sports medicine. Having a great team and being able to shine during tournaments is what helped him get noticed. This helps draw college coaches in to come to watch him and his team play. “Coach Sims has done nothing but good for me in preparing me for the next level,” says Duphily. He is a four-year varsity starter for shortstop and plays the game at a different speed than the majority of his high school players. “I enjoy the speed of the game and having a bond with my team. We are all brothers in my eyes. One thing that stands out for me is being able to make those magical moments to win the game or save the game, producing under pressure,” he adds. Dylan has been playing the sport since he was four years old, all year round. He is so committed to the sport he has probably spent more time playing the game of baseball than sleeping. Coach Sims remarked, “He loves the game and his family equally. He keeps his emotions in check better than any player I have had since Bronson Arroyo, win or lose. Leadership qualities are second to no player I have ever had. He makes every player a friend and makes every competitive situation a success.” His current goals are to make it to the final four with his Leopard team.
The expectations are high for the Leopards this spring and we expect more players being brought to the next level. “I’m proud of our entire Hernando Baseball program and my expectations will always be the same, enjoy the journey,” said coach Sims.