Stephen Nichol, Grade 12, Staff Writer
In the middle of the fifth inning of a pre-season scrimmage against the Inwood Academy Gators, the High School of American Studies Senators baseball season came to a grinding halt. With one phone call, Coach Peter Nizzari was informed that the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL) had suspended all activities due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the game would get called then and there. The Senators team has now been stuck in baseball limbo for the past ten months, never knowing when they might be able to return to the diamond.
At age 70, Nizzari has never spent a spring outside the dugout and does not intend to break that streak. "I'm confident that there will be a season, and the boys will be ready; they're great kids, and they work hard," said Nizzari. "We are as strong a team as anybody, and this is a great place for the boys to grow outside of academics." The experience has been frustrating for many, and Nizzari awaits his fifth season as head coach once local Covid-19 regulations permit.
The players themselves are also ready for a PSAL season. "I think we can have a great season if there is one," said Anderson Kovesci, the team captain and a senior. "We haven't been able to practice much, but I'm optimistic." If there is a season, Kovesci will play a crucial role in the outfield and top of the lineup. A key contributor to the team's success in his sophomore campaign, the senior had slugged a 0.306 batting average supplemented by an outstanding 0.510 on-base percentage, along with thirteen RBIs and sixteen stolen bases — all in just fourteen games.
With uncertainty surrounding the season, the fact remains that this Senators team is one to be reckoned with once permitted onto the field. Perhaps the most damage will be done while in the batter's box, as the team is looking to boast a powerful lineup of six seniors. Though the majority of these players have yet to play a full season in its entirety, they have the fortune of being backed by players with experience. Dashiel Handler, another senior captain, has shown a knack for coming up in the direst situations since his days as a freshman, hitting a walk-off single to win against division rival High School of Info & Network Technology at the Lehman College Field. Handler's experience comes along with his excellent offensive production. A solid hitter, Handler hit for a 0.286 average in his sophomore season along with a 0.583 on-base percentage and an exceptional 1.200 OPS, which is unheard of at the major league level.
At the end of the day, it will be all about mindset for the Senators. "You just got to stay focused," said Handler. "I know a lot of the guys have been on top of their workouts and training, and I think that's all you can really do at this stage in the game."
America's favorite pastime has yet to make its return to New York City high schools, but when it does, there is bound to be an exciting season for the Senators.
Art by Amy Yu
With all PSAL activities canceled, the Senators baseball team is unable to play this season.