Archbishop Curley Young But Ready To Compete
Marc Guillaume had never played baseball or even worn a glove before joining the Archbishop Curley squad last season as a junior. Football was his game.
But when a teammate decided to go out for baseball, Guillaume joined him, figuring it was a good way to stay in shape. It turned out to be a wise decision for the young man, after some growing pains, however. It also turned out to be a good thing for the Knights as well.
“He never had a glove on before, and being left-handed, I did not have a glove for him,” Manager Jerry Yeash said. “He held the bat with the wrong hand on top. I gave him my wife’s left-handed glove, and soon he was catching everything I hit at him in the outfield. He took over the starting left-field position and played well. He even collected two hits in our final game.”
Guillaume, one of just two seniors on the team this season, said he had no expectations at the beginning and basically was just winging it.
“I just started playing not knowing if I would be good at it, but it turns out I was good at it,” Guillaume said. “All I was trying to do was be an impact player as soon as possible.”
Guillaume said it was a struggle for him but he learned quickly and had a simple mission: just helping the team in every way possible. He soon discovered he was a good player and was having fun. Guillaume found a “family atmosphere” among his teammates, who are like brothers to him. This year, his main goal is to help the team reach the playoffs and win the key games necessary to do that along the way.
Junior third baseman Jordi Herrera, a two-year starter whom Yeash expects to be the team’s leader this year, said he and Guillaume are good friends. Herrera said he’s noticed the progress his friend has made.
“He’s a great help to our team,” Herrera said. “He always plays games with a lot of passion and hustle. Marc is a character. He always has jokes to say, which always keep the team in a good mood. I will say that Marc has turned into a fine left-fielder. He hustles for the balls that are hit in the gaps, he dives when he has to. He also leads by example to the team. When we run, he always goes 110 percent. His hitting is pretty descent for someone whose only play baseball for two years of their life, but all in all, Marc is showing signs of having a good season out in left field.”
Guillaume and Herrera are two of six returning starters this season. The others are sophomore catcher Brian Lopez, sophomore shortstop David Diaz, sophomore catcher/first baseman Jose Piña and freshman second baseman Chris Cardozo.
Yeash, who’s in his 33rd year as manager of the Knights, said he is expecting a lot of Herrera as a team leader, and Herrera said he’s ready and willing to execute in his role.
“I take it with great honor to be the leader of this team,” Herrera said. “I try to set an example each and every day to all of the younger guys. I’m constantly giving pointers out to all of the younger guys, which has been benefiting them a lot and translating on the field. I like to think of a baseball field as my playground, it’s my sanctuary, it’s what I know best and the fact that I’m the captain lets me show my teammates that ball really is life, as lot of people say.”
Herrera said his main goal is to bring the team closer together as the season goes on and to also teach guys what it is to live, breath, eat and sleep baseball.
“There’s this saying that coach Yeash tells us that goes, ‘Hard work doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure does improve the chances of it’.” Herrera said. “So if we don’t work hard each and every single day at practice, we’ll get crushed every game we play. But if we all work hard as a team, we’re going to put up a good fight.”
Returning reserves include sophomore designated hitter Enzo Bruno and senior outfielder Sean Smith. Promising newcomers are freshman shortstop/pitcher Yordangel Gonzalez, freshman center fielder Steven Garcia and freshman outfielder Jasner Goman. Yeash is excited especially about Gonzalez.
“I call him our ‘Benny the Jet Rodriguez’ from the Sandlot movie. He does everything well and always at 100 percent,” Yeash said.
Gonzalez is focused on becoming the best player he can be this season.
“I try to always be the first one in practice and the first one in the weight room and the last one out of it,” Gonzalez said. “I’m truly committed because tomorrow is not promised and I strive for greatness. I started playing at the age of five, so I believe my approach to the game is great, I can’t wait to play my first high school game.”
Diaz is expected to help out as the number two pitcher and play a lot at shortstop, though this is only his second season of organized baseball. Piña and Lopez will share the catching and first-base positions. Both will get some opportunities on the mound as well, Yeash said. Garcia has looked good in center field and has stung the ball at the plate.
The Knights are decidedly young this season with a bounty of underclassman, and Yeash knows his team will be challenged in every game. Yet, he knows there’s more to the game than just winning.
“We could have four freshmen and four sophomores in our top 10,” Yeash said. “The story will have to be how we overcome baseball inexperience and youth. I think it will rewarding to watch how our team improves. I know we will encounter a lot of adversity as we are not very deep or experienced. I hope we are able to handle it. We know we will be the least-experienced team against everybody we play this year.”
The Knights cannot measure improvement only by wins and loses. Specifically, they are trying to be the best coaches that they can be. That includes motivating the players, developing individual skills and improving their baseball knowledge.
They are in a competitive 3A-15. Westwood Christian, Hialeah Educational, Sagemont and Dade Christian took turns knocking each other off last year with Sagemont winning the district tournament. SLAM has been added to the district. Yeash feels Miami Country Day will also challenge the other five teams.
“During the season, we’ll have to keep our heads up and put up a fight each and every single game,” Hererra said. “Yes, there are going to be games that we’re going to get kicked in the teeth, as Coach Yeash says. But if we put in a lot of work, we’ll win games. We have a chance of winning every game we play. The score starts 0-0. We just have to come together as a team and show the other teams that we are hungry to win ball games. There are teams who are more talented than us, but that doesn’t give us a reason to not work hard; it only gives us more reason to grind out every single day.”