On my office corkboard I keep schedules of the teams currently in action. A seasons come a close I take them down and replace them with the next team. This time of the year I take them down and am a little slower with putting the next one up.
I’ve taken baseball down.
The 2012 season came to a close last night with a pair of losses on the road at Dakota Wesleyan and as my wife, his music teacher during his eighth grade year, said this morning, “That’s it for Travis.”
And she’s right.
A four year career comes to an end for six Dordt College seniors and the all-time hits leader at Dordt College, Travis Dekkers.
I’ve said that I believe the true test of senior’s mettle is how they close out their career. Oftentimes I’ll watch a sophomore grow leaps and bounds from the freshman to sophomore season and then there will be another improvement going into the junior year. After that, for most, it’s maintenance for the senior year, or, even a slight decline. I’m not saying I like it, but that’s what I’ve observed.
To say Dekkers saved the best for last may be an understatement.
Coming into the season chasing the all-time hits record, he banged out 51 hits this season which stands fourth all-time. He managed to bat .329 and belt 12 doubles with 38 runs batted in. He clubbed five homeruns with three of them coming in the final week of the season. He ended up being the anchor of an infield that at one point included three freshmen. He was in the lineup for all 44 games.
All totaled 174 hits, beating the previous record by 19. He was Dordt’s iron man, starting all but two games out of 160. When asked by a media member if he would ever consider sitting him down as the season went along, coach Jeff Schouten said simply, “No”.
And why would you?
Why would you take one of the best players on your team out of the lineup.
Full disclosure here. I’ve kept track of Travis since the day he was born.
I still remember the day Jeff Schouten signed him in December of his senior year in high school. I made the comment to him and is parents that I remember when he was born–showing my age here.
A tail-ender like yours truly, he grew up a little over a mile from my childhood home, a farm in-between Ireton and Hawarden.
Born into a family where baseball was a way of life, he followed three brothers and a sister significantly older than him. The three brothers were accomplished baseball players and the sister was a pretty good athlete in her own right.
I’m a firm believer that the hand eye coordination for hitting a baseball is God-given. You either have it or you don’t.
Travis had it, and I’m sure he had help in honing it from parents and older siblings, several of whom could be seen taking in baseball games at Dordt in all kinds of weather over the past four years.
We all would have liked a few more wins but that was not to be.
I’m sure GPAC pitchers are breathing a little easier now.
I still remember it clearly in a doubleheader in 2009, Travis’ freshman year. The opponent was Morningside. It was the late innings and Dordt was threatening with runners on second and third and Dekkers was up. Jim Scholten, the Mustang coach, wanted no part of that situation and walked the freshman to get to someone else, anyone else, and promptly got a line drive out to end the game.
Travis, from a lifelong baseball fan, thanks for finishing well.