Catcher is a hit

May 23, 2002, midnight | By Lily Hamburger | 18 years, 8 months ago

Eckert homers and holds down D

The varsity baseball team is facing the Damascus High School Swarmin' Hornets on Apr 26. The match-up is close until junior catcher Max Eckert steps into the box. Eckert meets a first-pitch fastball with a rip that sends it sailing over the 360-foot fence to drive in three runs for the Blazers, who go on to beat Damascus 8-7.

The knock was Eckert's first career home run, one of the many indications of how the first-year starter has stepped up his game this season. According to Coach John Macdonald, Eckert exceeded expectations this season, both offensively and defensively. Though he played just a few innings last season behind 2001 graduate Bennett Shields, Eckert is batting sixth in the order this year with a team-leading average of .354.

Beyond his impressive at-bats, Eckert has also seen a lot of action defensively. With a total of 79 putouts this season, Eckert has handled a variety of challenging plays behind the plate successfully. "He's been a stabilizing force for our defense," says Macdonald.

Eckert started catching when he was eight years old with a county recreational team and quickly got involved with more competitive leagues such as the Catholic Youth Organization and Montgomery County Baseball Association. He attended the Oakmont Friends School as a freshman, but because there was no baseball program there, he played for the Blair JV team.

In tenth grade, Eckert enrolled at Blair, his home school, to play varsity. He remembers that Macdonald told him that he had to attend Blair if he wanted to continue to play as a Blazer. "Mr. Macdonald gave me an ultimatum: come to Blair to play baseball or don't play," Eckert says.

Eckert, who plays ice hockey as well as baseball, was glad to come to Blair not only for athletic opportunities. He says the school has also made him a "better person" socially and academically.

With two years of Blair baseball and ice hockey under his belt, Eckert feels that this season has been his most successful. "This year has been one of my best defensive years," he says. "I've made some mistakes, but my arm is stronger and faster because I tried to work hard in the off-season." His work apparently paid off, as Eckert has thrown out eight runners this season.

Macdonald recognizes Eckert's hard work and vast improvement, and he boasts that Eckert is a top catcher compared with others the Blazers have faced in the county. "I haven't seen a better defensive catcher this year than him," Macdonald says.

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Lily Hamburger. Lily Hamburger, managing sports editor, is a proud senior and back for another year on <i>Chips</i>. Lily is a sports fan, a singer, and a softball player. Her favorite food is macaroni and cheese, favorite ice cream flavor is mint chocolate chip and favorite ninja … More »

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