For John Reid, starring on the ice for the Princeton High boys’ hockey team last winter has helped him on the diamond this spring.
“I think I am constantly ready to compete,” said junior Reid, a forward in hockey and an outfielder for the PHS baseball squad.
“I think my competitive drive has actually increased this last year with the great hockey season that we had. I think it definitely benefits my game.”
Batting in the cleanup spot, Reid has emerged as an offensive threat this spring for the Little Tigers.
“I think last year, I was a year younger and I hadn’t seen any varsity pitching,” said Reid.
“Going forward into this year, I was a little more comfortable in the box. It is still tough but I think I have been seeing some better pitches and I have been a little more patient.”
PHS showed its toughness last week, topping Pennington 10-0 on May 5 and then blanking Lawrence 6-0 a day later to clinch a spot in the upcoming state tournament.
“We knew that we had to win those two games to get into the state tournament for the first time since 2001,” said Reid.
“We really put an emphasis on making sure that we got guys on and we got them in. The pitching was great. We knew that we had to win those two games and we ended up doing that.”
In Reid’s view, making the states is important for the PHS in both the short term and the long term.
“I think with the team we have this year, there are some guys that felt bad not being in states for a while,” said Reid.
“I think it means a lot for the program to do that and hopefully build on it for next year as well.”
Things didn’t go as well for PHS last Friday as it fell 4-0 at Nottingham with Reid contributing two infield hits in a losing cause.
“I think lately I have been swinging earlier in counts and I am seeing some more fastballs,” said Reid, reflecting on his performance in the defeat.
“I think it was a tough day today; they kind of lulled us into a slow game and I think that is what brought us down.”
While PHS head coach Dave Roberts was pleased with how his team came through to earn the state berth, he was disappointed to see his team subsequently fall 5-2 to Pennington in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament on Wednesday and then lose to Notttingham.
“The early week was positive; it is hard to remember that we did have a .500 week,” said Roberts.
“We can’t score 16 runs in the first two games of the week and then score two in the next 14 innings. It doesn’t make for a recipe for success.”
Roberts acknowledges that playing in the states will be a huge positive for the program.
“It is exciting; it looks like we will be matched up against Wall; they are a real good shore conference team,” said Roberts.
“It will be great, the seniors deserve a state game and they got themselves a state game. It will be tons of fun.”
Reid’s progress this spring has been exciting for Roberts. “John scratched out a couple of hits today which was nice to see because he had been struggling mightily before that,” said Roberts of Reid who went 1-for-2 last Monday to help PHS defeat Notre Dame 6-2 and improve to 7-11. “It was nice to see him get a little bit back on track today.”
Sophomore Hayden Reyes has given PHS a nice lift, sparking the offense from the No. 2 spot in the lineup and starring at shortstop and pitcher,
“Hayden has been phenomenal since last year,” said Roberts. “Every time we step out here, I definitely feel like whenever he is playing shortstop, he is in the top three shortstops in the CVC defensively and even offensively. He has pitched all his life. He throws strikes, he doesn’t walk people and most importantly he works quick.”
The PHS pitching rotation has been led by sophomore Joaquin Hernandez-Burt.
“Joaquin has been tremendous all year, he has been dominant on the mound,” said Roberts of the Hernandez-Burt, who yielded three hits and a run in five innings to earn the win in the victory over Notre Dame.
“He’s been our absolute workhorse; every single outing he had would qualify as a quality start. He has two shutouts; he’s been awesome on the mound.”
With a roster featuring a number of sophomores and juniors, Roberts believes the program has a quality foundation going forward.
“Hopefully they are learning every day and from every single experience that we have, especially the county tournament game that we lost on Wednesday and the game we lost today,” said Roberts.
Reid, for his part, believes that the lessons learned this year will benefit PHS in the future.
“Pretty much our whole infield is going to be juniors next year,” said Reid. “You take that experience and the few juniors that we do have on the team this year, we should continue with that success.”