Bases loaded: Senior captain leads by example in outfield, batter’s box

Owen Gibbs

It’s late in the game and the Vikings are down by a run with a man in scoring position. Senior Michael Barber feels a surge of adrenaline as he steps up to the plate. The pitcher leans back, and unleashes a fastball. Michael swings hard, and sends the ball flying into the outfield. This is the moment that makes all the sacrifices worth it.

Michael has been playing baseball since he was four years old. He pitched for the Vikings last year, but started having some issues with his pitching arm, so he transitioned to center field permanently.

“Michael had some discomfort in his arm,” head baseball coach James Dillard said. “He’s always been a center fielder, so we shut him down pitching because we wanted him healthy so he could play the entire season.”

One of the priorities for high school coaches is to go beyond student athletic skills and help them mature and develop as leaders.

“Michael’s matured over the last couple of baseball seasons and he’s become more of a leader,” Dillard said. “Michael’s leadership abilities stand out to me the most. He’s a very vocal guy, he leads the team by what he says and what he does.”

Dillard believes Michael’s characteristics make him a strong leader in the outfield.

“Michael is a captain,” Dillard said. “He goes and gets all the balls that are hit in the outfield and he’s vocal in covering the entire field. He also tells the other two outfielders how many outs there are left in the inning. He leads by example.”

Michael’s teammates also look to him for guidance and leadership.

“Michael is encouraging,” teammate junior Hunter Zaragoza said. “Even when we’re down he’s always trying to pick us up and lead us on to play in the field of battle. He’s never shy to say anything if anyone’s not doing the right thing or in the right place he’ll tell them where to be and what to do.”

Baseball is a sport that requires dedication and composure, but Michael sees it as the most enjoyable sports.

“Baseball is a big part of my life and it’s what I really enjoy playing,” Michael said. “I enjoy spending time with my teammates and having that camaraderie with them.”

Michael enjoys every aspect of baseball, including the daily challenges.

“Hitting is definitely my favorite part of the game,” Michael said, “but it’s also the most difficult part of the game. However, it definitely feels good to get a solid hit.”

Sports frequently teaches athletes lessons beyond what they learn on the field and baseball is no exception.

“Baseball has taught me that even if something bad happens in the beginning, there’s still a lot of time left where you can come back and things can turn in your favor,” Michael said. “It’s good to stay in things and not stay down if something bad happens early.”