Mendez a Versatile Player for 19U Clinton Huskies
Being an athlete who plays multiple sports can be hard to balance, but some people can do it seamlessly while positively contributing to the teams they’re a part of. This sentiment can be easily said about Luis Mendez, who has shined on multiple athletic terrains throughout his high school career, especially on the baseball diamond.
The Morgan School recent graduate has been playing baseball all his life, enjoying it so much that he carries his play into the summer with the 19U Clinton Huskies, his last hurrah before going off to college this fall. Throughout his high school athletic career, Luis also played football all four years, and mixed in track and field, wrestling, rugby, and Gaelic football. Through all of this, he found his true calling with baseball after family influence at a young age helped Luis to find his niche.
“I have really been playing baseball all my life due to my father raising me on it and just watching it as a little kid,” Luis says. “There was a portion where I stopped playing, which was seventh grade to summer of my junior year. This is my biggest sports regret because when picking it back up, I realized my love for the sport was never lost.”
Clinton Huskies Head Coach Willie Fritz, who has been coaching the summer team since 2011, has been running the program for six years while also coaching different teams within the league. He sees Luis as a positive contributor to the squad due to his positive attitude and ability to lighten the mood with his teammates.
“He is the guy that everybody gets fired up about. When he is at the plate, everybody wants him to get a hit and get on base,” says Fritz. “He keeps the atmosphere in the dugout up, everyone on the team likes him, and other guys on other teams like him. It does not matter if he strikes out, pops out, or gets a hit, he has a smile on his face.”
First base is Luis’ primary position on the baseball field, but this summer he has been hitting as the designated hitter (DH), a role he fulfilled willingly and openly.
“I am a first baseman, but this summer I was usually a Designated Hitter, as we had guys who have played longer than me to fill the field,” says Luis. “But that didn’t bother me one bit, as I really like hitting more than fielding.”
The summer league season begins in mid-June and goes until mid -August with the playoffs. Although Luis didn’t get to play in the field on defense this summer as much as he is used to, he never failed to remain optimistic and have a team-first mentality.
“The season has been going better than expected, which makes me happy for the older kids who have been playing a longer time and now are coming up on their last year,” says Luis. “We did start off a little slow, but honestly when we all play on the top of our game, it really makes a huge difference, and I feel we can beat any team in our conference.”
Fritz also admires Luis’ flexibility and willingness to play whatever position he was assigned to, noting that Luis performed well no matter the circumstance and always put pressure on opposing defenses.
“He has been playing really well. I put him in and sometimes he tells me that he just wants to be the DH, but if I put him in the field he does a good job,” says Fritz. “We have
14 guys on the roster, and I want to keep everyone involved. The best way that I can keep Luis involved in a game is the DH. Luis does not strike out much, he always hits the ball and makes the defense make a play, that is a positive. I tell the guys on the team, watch Luis. He is up there always hitting the ball, not trying to make a big swing.”
For Luis and his Huskies teammates, they had to face a lot of different roster changes game-to-game due to lack of availability among the whole squad, but Luis was able to adapt to it and roll with the punches, even when that seemed difficult to do.
“In a handful of the summer games we’ve been limited on players, because since it is summer not everyone is available every game, but we did the best we could do with the players,” says Luis. “We were able to play on the field, and Coach made good adjustments to the scenario given the times we were down players.”
As the summer season winds down and Luis looks ahead to his future, this certainly won’t be the end of his baseball career. After he concludes his summer with the team, Luis will be attending Stonehill College in the fall, where he plans to play on the club baseball team in the fall and spring.