Firehawk baseball program is no longer seasonal


Sabrina Jahan

FOCUS: Senior Zach Helfand winds up to pitch during the Firehawks win over the East Valley Eagles Sept. 22. The Firehawks are participating in a fall ball program until Dec. 1 in preparation for the competitive season next spring..

By Adam Tizabi, Staff Writer

Welcome to fall ball.

For all of Shalhevet’s history, baseball has been played as a spring sport. But this year, in a bid to continue to grow the baseball department, Head Coach Brad Gunches was determined to organize a year-round baseball program.

Coach Gunches, who took over as Head Coach for the sport last January, said he wanted to start a fall program for the team to work on the fundamentals. And that’s what happened.

“In the fall season, everyone gets to play and prepare for the spring season,” said Coach Gunches, who has coached baseball in various places for 43 years. “We just work on things to get better and pick up fundamental skills.”

The Athletic Department has created a fall-ball season to last until December. Athletic Coordinator Coach Jeff Remer said that playing non-league, non-com- petitive baseball in fall would pay dividends later.

“It will parlay itself into something positive come springtime,” said Coach Remer.

In addition, Coach Gunches announced that the team would be participating in the Third Annual Ezra Schwartz Z”L Memorial Baseball Tournament in Boston next April. The tournament was created by Ezra’s parents after the 18-year-old was murdered in Israel by a Palestinian terrorist while on a volunteer trip in 2015.

Freshman Jack Metzger said he expects the tournament to be the highlight of the year for the Firehawks.

“I think our team will really bond through this tournament,” said Jack. “We will create memories and become closer.”

The Firehawks have joined a fall league through the East Valley Colt Baseball league. They are scheduled to play about 12 recreational games through the end of November, according to Coach Gunches.

They won their first game on Sept. 15, 8-3, against the Vigilantes from La Canada. As of Sept. 23, they are 2-0.

Last season, the team went 8-7 in a season that started in mid-February. Catcher Sam Rubin said the team had

its first practice just two weeks prior to the first regular-season game in February and thus wasn’t well-conditioned to play.

He said he expects playing fall ball will give the team a spring forward.

“It’s obviously a big jump from last year,” said Sam. “All of our players are going to be in great shape and get tons of practice in before the spring.”

Fall games are on Sundays and in between, the team practices Wednesday evenings at Fairfax High School. They are expecting to have about 10 practices.

The fall-season ends on Dec. 1, and there will be a six-week break before spring baseball gears up in the second week of January.

Co-Captain pitcher Jesse Harrison said having a fall program could be especially beneficial for the team’s six new freshmen recruits. He also said that the team will have time to gel before the competitive spring season.

“Fall ball is the time to get familiar with each other and learn each others’ names,” Jesse said. “By the time spring rolls around, we’ll be all warmed up and have better chemistry.”