To be a solid infielder you need to have good feet. Quick movement around the bag is something that will separate the good infielders from the great ones. Being able to pivot and turn a double play when you have someone coming in hard trying to take you out is important.
This is why you will see second basemen and shortstops taking extra reps every day. Being able to have quick feet, think of a ballet dancer, is the difference between turning two or getting wiped out.
St. Mary’s High School baseball player Cole Laskowski knows a little something about playing second base. He was the starting second baseman for the Lancers as they lost in game three of the Georgetown Cup finals to St. Joseph Collegiate Institute.
The youngster made an impression on the coaching staff since he was called up, and showed he had what it takes to play around the bag.
“I choose St. Mary’s because I felt the love here. I knew that I was going to be a big contribution to the program coming here, and I wanted to be that kind of guy. Playing for St. Mary's has been great. We made it to the finals last year and that was the best experience I have had as a baseball player,” stated Laskowski. “I’ve learned so much from the seniors that left like Joe Barberio, Zach Penksa and Alex Bish. Also Coach Wags, he gave me a chance to play as a sophomore and I didn’t want to disappoint him. What I have learned is to just be relaxed when I play the game. The seniors stressed that because they all played when they were sophomores and that was there biggest advice.”
Being relaxed is important when you are playing any sport. The more relaxed you are the better you play. Being relaxed around the bag is also important. If you can receive the softball with soft hands, and get the ball out quickly, then it makes you job a lot easier.
Also, having your feet in the right position around the bag is important. Again, it comes down to having quick feet. People who do ballet are light on their toes. They are able to turn on a dime. They are able to jump in mid-air and land where they want to without skipping people.
Being a second baseball is almost the same thing. Being light and nibble on the balls of your feet will help you from being taken out on the play.
“To be a solid second basemen you have to be relaxed. When you get the ball it's a pretty easy throw but you can’t rush anything,” stated Laskowski. “You have to have quick feet and hands for the double play balls. It is really important to have good footwork around the bag because double plays are very important in important games. Zach and I turned a lot of double plays during the season and that’s because every practice that’s what him and I would work on.”
Playing solid defense is what’s getting Laskowski to the next level. He knows he needs to improve on his hitting, and that’s one of the reasons why he choose the community college route. Small in stature, Laskowski isn’t going to hit the 500-foot home run.
He will, however, be able to take the ball the other way, and get the ball in the gaps where he can use his speed around the bases.
“I have learned that I can hang with anybody no matter what size they are. I am a scrappy little player that likes to grind no matter who I’m facing. I need to get better at hitting. I have to get a stronger arm and that's what I am working at getting stronger now and not waiting to get started in college,” he said. “If I scouted myself I would say that he is a good line drive hitter and he has good hands and feet to play the middle position.”
Working on his game just doesn’t happen during the high school season. Laskowski also hones his craft during the summer for travel ball. For the longest time, Laskowski applied his trade with the Nickel City 9, before recently moving over to the Western New Prospects.
Both organization have a knack for getting their players to the next level. They have a knack for developing players without making it about themselves. At the end of the day the organizations know it’s about the kids and not about themselves.
“I chose Nickel City 9 because of coach Barberio. He took me in and loved me for a player and a kid. He is the one who taught me how to play the game the right way. Not just throwing, hitting, and all the big things in the game but also the little things,” explained Laskowski. “Like to never throw your helmet, call the umpire “sir”, footwork and quick hands. All of those things is what he taught me and I can credit all of that to him. I am now playing with coach Helembrecht because I know that he can develop my game also and make me a better player than I am today.”
Where Laskowski is today is a budding star at St. Mary’s High School. He probably could have went on to a Division II or III college right after highs school, but chose to go the community college route. There he will have a chance to work on his game, and work on getting bigger and stronger.
There have been a lot of Western New York players that have gone on to community college and are now playing Division I baseball. Brett Helembrecht is one that comes to mind. He tore it up at Niagara County Community College for two years, and now is a starter at Coppin State.
“I thought the community college route would better for me because I can develop my game and get stronger. Getting stronger is most important for me because with my size that’s the only thing I can do. It will better my career because if I do good in community college then I might be able to go to a D1 school,” stated Laskowski. “If I got to choose any school to play college baseball at it would probably be UCLA. I have always like that school since I was younger and it is a great program.”