Having a Ball at Tonawanda High School
That’s the motto Pat Ball lives by, and it’s been serving him well.
In his first season with the Tonawanda Warriors varsity baseball team Ball, a junior, is the epitome of what you want in a teammate. He gives you his best everyday and is always wearing a happy-go-lucky smile that tells you all is right in his world.
“I would say my strength is in the outfield and keeping everyone up,” Ball said after the Warriors 4-2 win over JFK.
Describing Ball as a coach’s dream, Warriors skipper John Frank said that Ball is not only one of his best outfielders he’s a shining example of what it means to be a good teammate.
“He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of kid,” coach Frank said. “He’s a very coachable kid. He does what you ask of him, he’s always got a smile on his face and he’s always there for his teammates. When times are tough or things are going well he’s the first person off the bench to pat you on the back or give you a high five, congratulate you.”
Though Ball’s defensive work in left field it without question his strong suit, he knows he still needs to work on improving his consistency at the plate.
In fact during the first half of the season Ball has more often than not found himself in a situation of serving as first base coach and giving way to another teammate batting in his spot.
While most kids would probably complain about the lack of consistent at-bats, Ball has shown great maturity by realizing what his strengths and weaknesses are. By unselfishly stepping aside so a more capable teammate can take his turn in the batters box Ball’s actions demonstrate that there are multiple ways a player can contribute. And that the greater good of the team is what matters most.
“There’s other people that are better than me and they get that chance to bat before me,” Ball explained. “Since I’m a weak batter, and I know that I’ve been a weak batter, and other people are better than me I don’t mind that they hit for me. I’d rather us have the win, then have me bat and have us down in the dumps because I struck out three times. I’d rather have someone better bat for me and me play the out field and do my best than have a losing streak.”
Frank said that Ball’s ability to give way to a teammate that can do a job better without causing a scene or letting it damage his confidence speaks volumes about Ball’s character and team first approach.
But Frank also said that he sees Ball working hard and more at-bats are coming Ball’s way. In the meantime Frank marvels at how Ball takes it all in stride and can find the humor in anything.
“I joke with him he says ‘hey coach I finally got contact!’ I say,’that usually helps.’” Frank said with a chuckle. “I go,’that makes a world of difference.’ We always joke about it. He’s that kind of kid.”
That’s not to say that Pat Ball hasn’t had his moments in the spotlight.
Ball scored the winning run in the Warriors 4-3 win over Springville on April 11 when he stole home after Springville tried a pick-off play at first base. With Ball on third and Ben Stich on first, Jake Spencer was at the plate waiting for the perfect moment to lay down a bunt and set the wheels in motion for the suicide squeeze.
But when the Springville pitcher tried to pick off Stich, Ball saw his window of opportunity and broke for home.
“Oh man, that was the most exiting moment I ever had in my life,” Ball said with a smile. “To win a game like that and having the (spotlight) and everyone cheering me on, it was just spectacular. I couldn’t be more excited. I was so pumped and ready. When I saw the opportunity to steal I took it and we won the game. It was the best thing to ever happen to me, honestly.”