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Park Center’s baseball team is poised to win more game this spring than the past three seasons combined.
But success hasn’t made senior shortstop Jeremy Tutt less hungry. Pirates coach Brian Hronski raved of Tutt, “I’ve coached 12 years and I haven’t had a kid who has worked harder on his game.”
Fielding 200 ground balls after practice? An extra hour in the batting cage? All in a day’s work for Tutt, a co-captain who leads by example.
“I’m not leading the team in stats or anything but I’m playing my role of being a good leader and a good teammate,” Tutt said. “The other co-captain, Austin Ledin, and I like to lead by example. We try to always remain focused and work hard.”
The Pirates, 14-49 the past three seasons, began this week 8-2. Tutt spoke with Star Tribune reporter David La Vaque about taking enjoyment in hard work, a winning record and a victory against rival Champlin Park.
Q: How does it feel to be sitting where you are at this point of the season?
A: It feels great. A lot of hard word has paid off. We took our lumps the past few years, so it feels really great to be on the winning side. But we all know it doesn’t stop now. Just because you start winning a little bit doesn’t mean the hard work is over. We still have bigger goals to achieve and that means more work.
Q: The Anoka loss last week might have sunk your chances to be Northwest Suburban Conference champions but how did you keep your bigger goals in perspective?
A: Everybody was disappointed because that was a big game for us. We wished we could have come out with the win but we have to stay focused and keep working hard. We’ve got half a season left and even though the Anoka game was big, there are going to be bigger games.
Q: Coach Hronski loves your work ethic. But have you really taken 200 grounders after practice?
A:Yeah, I have done that before. I just like to work hard. I’ve never been the most talented or gifted guy, but I do pride myself in really working hard so I can help the team. I like to win, that’s part of it.
Q: And you’ll spend up to an hour after practice in the batting cage?
A:Yeah, and it’s not just me. We’ve got a lot of other guys on the team who come early or stay late to take some extra hacks or take some more ground balls. The whole team is trying to get better and any free time we have, we like to spend it playing baseball.
Q: Was there a game, win or loss, that has meant more than others this season?
A: I would say when we beat Champlin Park 5-3 — that was a big win for me, the other guys and the coaches because I don’t think we’ve beaten Champlin Park for a while. They have always been a rival and we grew up playing with a lot of those kids.
Q: And the next game you beat defending Class 3A state champion Mounds View. But you’re sticking with Champlin Park as your favorite?
A: I’m sticking with Champlin Park [laughs]. But Mounds View was a big win, too. That felt good as well.
Q: Did you have any personal highlights from the Champlin Park game?
A: I think I had a hit but no RBI. But I played solid defense — didn’t make any errors. For me, any time I can play solid defense and we win it’s a good day for me.
David La Vaque