By Laura Amato
The Cardozo baseball team has a drill that’s become part of the regular practice schedule this season.
Actually, the Judges have a dozen drills that are part of an in-depth schedule tailor-made to emulate any and all in-game scenarios.
This one just happens to the players’ favorite.
The rules are easy; don’t hit the ball in the air. If you do, you’re out. You don’t get to hit again and you have to watch the rest of your teammates compete.
That doesn’t usually go over well for the Judges. After all, this is a team that thrives on competition, both in the PSAL and, perhaps more importantly, with each other. It’s a drive that has helped Cardozo climb to the top of the AAA Eastern standings, as well as a No. 4 seed in the postseason, and created a batting order that is one of the most dangerous in the entire city.
“You want to push each other,” senior infielder Aldwin Corono said. “That’s what you want, you want guys to motivate you. That’s a big part of why we’ve been so successful.”
The Judges’ bats have been nothing short of dominant this year.
Cardozo boasts the top five batting averages and on base percentages in the league, while two players have scored over 20 runs. All five of those players are hitting .500 or better.
It’s a performance that has sparked the Judges’ spring—and one that got its start in the batting cages months before the season began.
“Practice is usually harder than the game situation,” coach Ronald Gorecki said. “What we practice is choreographed game situations. So that when we get to them and the game is on, there are no surprises.”
Cardozo hasn’t faced many surprises this year, losing just one game April 20, and its consistency at the plate has been a big reason for that.
Devin Haberstumpf has also been a big reason.
The senior boasts a team-best .682 batting average, good enough for best in the PSAL, and leads the city with 30 hits in 44 at bats.
“I get so many opportunities to drive runners in and these guys just make it happen,” Haberstumpf said. “My stats are there because the guys in front of me are hitting so well.”
In addition to perfectly orchestrated drills in practice, the Judges also do their homework when it comes to preparing for opposing pitchers. Cardozo has faced a handful of looks in the PSAL this season, but nothing has shaken the squad yet.
“It starts before the game when we’re watching the pitcher warm up,” catcher Michael Coletta said. “We see where the ball is releasing, see where the catcher is and where he likes to locate. Even throughout the game, we see a pitcher’s tendencies.”
The Judges haven’t let the stats go to their head. In fact, their success has only helped fuel their drive for the program’s first city championship since 2014.
The postseason may be upon them, but Cardozo isn’t changing its approach. After all, they’ve been practicing for this moment all year.
“We knew exactly what we had coming in this year, so we were just focused on hitting the gym, hitting the cages and working hard doing what we do best,” senior Noah Cabrera said. “It’s all about team chemistry. As long as we come through as one, we’ll be there.”