Pine River baseball eyes better hitting

LEROY — Pine River’s baseball team will rely on players like Devin Ruppert and Derrick Waldfogel in order to have a successful season.

Ruppert, a junior, is in his third varsity season.

“I didn’t think we hit the greatest last year,” he said. “I think we’re going to hit better this year. We lost a lot from last year. We hit better than I expected we would (in the season opener with Farwell).”

The key will be “being short to the ball, not trying to wrap around it too much,” Ruppert said, “plus relaxing at the plate.”

Ruppert hopes to bat in the .300s after coming close last season. He’ll pitch, catch and play shortstop. He had a winning record on the mound last season.

“I mix it up pretty well,” he said. “I hit spots pretty well too.”

Waldfogel is a senior outfielder. Last season, a highlight was making a diving catch in left field at Pine River.

This season, Waldfogel, after the first two games, was batting .500. He wouldn’t mind staying around that level for the rest of the season.

“I have to stay away from the bad pitches,” he said. “I normally go for the first one.”

Ruppert is hopeful that the Bucks can have a successful postseason. But hitting will be a key, “getting baserunners on and getting them in,” he said, and doing what we’re supposed to at the plate.

Waldfogel has been a pitcher and catcher in the past, but this year is focusing on the outfield.

“I’ve got a good arm in the outfield and I can see the ball before it gets there,” he said.

The next scheduled game is Thursday at Kent City for the Bucks.

“We’re a solid hitting group,” Waldfogel said. “Our fielding is up there.”

He’s a left-hander and Waldfogel considers that to be an advantage, as was illustrated in the season opener against Farwell.

“The right-handed pitcher was throwing a lot of curves and I could see every one of them,” he said. “Actually, they threw a lefty first off and he walked me twice.”