Turn of events

Matt DeYoung • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:37 PM

You hear about them all the time — sports squads mired in a slump calling a team meeting to hash out the problems and search for solutions.

They don't always work.

But in the case of the Fruitport varsity baseball squad, a team meeting led to a stunning turnaround.

"We were 7-10 at the time," said Trojans' coach Nick Reed. "We threw all the stuff we did wrong on the board – the griping, the complaining, not hustling, the little things. We said, 'We can forget about these 17 games, move on from here, focus on winning a district, fighting for conference.'"

And that's exactly what the Trojans did.

They were 2-2 in Lakes Eight play at the time, then finished 7-1 over the final eight league games — enough to make eventual league champion Spring Lake nervous.

The Trojans then won the district tournament, avenging a pair of losses to those same Lakers of Spring Lake with a victory in the district title game.

That was quite a turnaround after losing to the Lakers 8-6 and 14-5 earlier this season.

The biggest difference?

"We started having more fun," Reed said. "We started playing music, goofing around. We're enjoying it, and that's what baseball is all about. That's why you play. We kind of lost that fact trying to be too serious at the beginning of the season."

Senior pitcher Austin Curtis is coming off a memorable week in which he was the winning pitcher in all three of the Trojans' district tournament games.

Curtis said the Trojans made the commitment to play for the team, not for themselves.

"We talked about what we've been doing wrong, and decided that everyone's being too selfish, playing for themselves," Curtis said. "Once we figured that out — what we were doing wrong — we were able to flip things around.

"Being 7-10 was a reality check. We've had really good baseball teams since we were 6 years old. It was like, 'Why don't we just have fun and play like we did in Little League?' So we're just having fun, playing more small ball, backing each other up, picking each other up in the dugout. It's been a lot different."

That difference has led to a lot of wins, and the Trojans are hoping for two more big wins on Saturday. They open Division 2 regional play against East Grand Rapids (27-11) at Hope College at 10 a.m. The winner takes on the winner of Holland Christian and Grand Rapids Catholic Central at 2 p.m.

Read more in Saturday's print and e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune

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