Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 21
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

ALEX THE GREAT: Hun School baseball star Alex Fabian shows his speed on the base paths in action this spring. Last Sunday, Hun relied on Fabian’s arm as the junior picked up the win in the mound as Hun topped Peddie 11-2 in the state Prep A title game. Junior Fabian went 51/3 innings in the victory, striking out five and giving up just four hits.

Dudeck’s Work Ethic Reflected Team Mentality As Hun Baseball Captured Prep A Championship

Bill Alden

Finding himself mired in a batting slump earlier this spring, Hun School baseball star David Dudeck responded by putting his nose to the grindstone.

“It is part of baseball; it happens to everyone,” said junior centerfielder Dudeck, referring to his cold spell.

“Basically I would stay after practice and take my extra swings every day; it was a lot of extra work. It is all about the approach and being confident when you walk up to that plate.”

Dudeck’s work paid off down the stretch, triggering a power surge as he blasted six homers in six games leading up to the state Prep A tournament last week.

Despite the inclement weather which delayed the tournament until the weekend, Dudeck and his teammates never stopped working.

“In practice this whole week, even with the weather, we were working hard,” said Dudeck. “We had our goals set out at the beginning of the year and one of our goals was to win the state tournament.”

Dudeck’s sizzling bat helped the Raiders achieve that goal. On Saturday, he clubbed a 400-foot homer as Hun edged Lawrenceville 2-1 in the semis. A day later in the title game against visiting Peddie, Dudeck lined a key two-run double to help spark a four-run uprising in the third inning that got Hun rolling on the way to an 11-2 win.

A beaming Dudeck savored the team’s title, the program’s first Prep A crown since 2008.

“We were coming into today looking to win this championship,” asserted Dudeck. “Our coaches kept on telling us that we were going to get there; to just keep our heads. We stayed here and we won this thing.”

The Raiders struggled in the first two innings against Peddie hurler Jared Graziano before breaking through with four runs in the third and sixth in the fourth.

“This pitcher threw really well; you have got to give it to him,” said Dudeck.

“He is a good pitcher; I think he is going to play D-1 college baseball next year. He was throwing real well against us. We just ended up getting a few hits here or there and putting something together.”

In reflecting on his double to the left field corner which gave the Raiders a 3-0 lead, Dudeck said he focused on fundamentals.

“I was just trying to stay back on the ball and stay smooth with my hands,” recalled Dudeck. “Sometimes that happens when you hit a ball like that.”

Hun head coach Bill McQuade likes the way Dudeck has been getting on the ball over the last few weeks.

“He has some of the most incredible bat speed I have seen,” said McQuade, whose team improved to 12-7 with the title game victory.

“If you make a mistake to Dave, anywhere from the belt to the chest, he is going to light it up. In the first half of the season, we were joking that he couldn’t hit a beach ball because his timing was so screwed up. He kept working because that’s what Dave does. He is a workaholic and he also hates to lose. He was hitting under .200 for the first eight games of the season but you just knew he was going to come around. I didn’t know it was going to happen with all of these blasts.”

McQuade shook his head and smiled when he reflected on a a three-run blast hit by Stevie Wells in the fourth inning well over the right field fence which gave Hun a 10-0 cushion.

“He is such a great kid; to end it this way is going to make him work that much harder over the summer and come back even better,” said McQuade.

“That was just demoralizing. As soon as it left his bat, I said that was out. It was just a matter of how far. That was the 10th run and even in the tournament where the finals have to go the full seven innings, that 10-run lead is a threshold for players on both sides.”

Hun’s spirits were lifted by the mound effort it got from starting pitcher Alex Fabian, who went 51/3 innings, striking out five and giving up just four hits.

“He had some arm trouble early in the season so he didn’t get a chance to pitch much early in the season,” said McQuade of the junior hurler.

“Now he is coming into his own and he is pounding the strike zone. He got better and better over the last three weeks of the season. He will pitch in the summer and get better and he will be one of our aces next year.”

Over the course of the spring, Hun got better and better collectively as the young squad developed into a champion.

“This was a fun year to coach because you came into it with not the highest of expectations,” said McQuade, who is in his 41st season at the helm of the Hun program.

“When you had the teams with Mike Russo and those guys, the pressure was on right from day one on them and the coaches. You are supposed to win. This is one where we said we’ll be a different team at the end of the year than we were at the beginning of the year.Clearly we are. Right now we can compete against a lot of teams and do well.”

It has been a lot of fun for Dudeck and his teammates to experience that growth curve. “We were young coming into the season and we didn’t exactly know who was going to play where,” said Dudeck.

“We have worked extremely hard and you have got to give it to our coaches, they have practiced hard with us each and everyday, no matter whether it was raining or not.”

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