Nolan Brodsky didn’t have a lot of varsity experience, but he was determined to make an impact in his final year with the Ewing High School baseball team.
The senior has stepped into the designated hitter role and been one of the most consistent offensive forces for the Blue Devils. Going into the final week of the season, he led Ewing in at bats and runs scored and sat second behind Jay Lawrence in total hits.
“My approach to the season wasn’t any different, but I feel I was able to fix more, I was able to figure out more problems with my swing,” Brodsky said. “And during the scrimmages I finally got a shot, and I wasn’t letting it go.”
Brodsky came into the season with just two varsity at bats last year. He developed into a critical player.
“I can’t take him out of the lineup,” said Ewing head coach Dave Angebranndt. “He’s shown the most consistency and the most improvement over the course of his career that I’ve seen in a while.
The Blue Devils started the season slowly with just four wins in their first 18 games, but over the final weeks they did show some resolve with a pair of encouraging wins. Brodsky was 3 for 5 with a pair of runs batted in during a 9-8 come-from-behind win over a Spotswood team that was 14-4 and led Ewing, 6-0, after two innings.
“From the fourth inning on, the energy level was completely different and it’s that you’re-not-going-to-beat-me attitude. That’s the difference between the four wins we have and the 14 losses.
“We beat Spotswood on Tuesday and the next day we play Robbinsville for the third time this year and we lose, 10-2, and it’s like a completely different team out on the field.”
The Blue Devils have a half-dozen seniors that they will be saying good-bye to after this season. They had hoped for a bit more this year, but still could leave on a positive note by putting together more memorable wins down the stretch to erase their early season frustrations.
“Obviously it’s a little disappointing because we had a lot of high hopes coming in, but I guess it’s a good thing we’ve managed to push through, nobody has quit on us,” Brodsky said.
Ewing can build on its camaraderie. It has gotten contributions from a mix of classes, and played some of its up-and-coming contributors more down the stretch.
“It’s a lot of sophomores and juniors out there,” Brodsky said. “Especially the juniors who came up from being sophomores last year, they have a lot more experience, and they’re contributing a little more. And we saw a lot from the freshmen last year who are sophomore now. They’re contributing a lot, like Greg (Robbins) and Ronnie (Miller), they’re helping us out. And the seniors are contributing too.”
Brodsky has been able to utilize his bat to aid the Blue Devils this year. He fine-tuned his swing by working at standing tall at bat and not dipping his back shoulder. As a designated hitter, he has a singular focus that allows him to hone in on his specialty. “I love it,” he said. “I get to focus on what I did wrong in my first at bat if I get out.”
Ewing went into its final week looking for a positive finish to a season that has seen some struggles. The Blue Devils haven’t hit as well as expected, and their pitching isn’t deep. Dakota Ditmars and Anthony Yarson have gotten most of the work on the mound. Ditmars, a junior, will be back next year to lead the pitching staff. Yarson, a senior, has a respectable 3.94 earned run average although he hasn’t gotten the run support to win a game.
Ewing hasn’t lost faith in its ability. It has hung together through the ups and downs and continued to strive for wins, and look to shake their hitting woes when the American Legion baseball season begins.
“That’s one of the main things that’s giving us hope,” Brodsky said. “We know a lot of the guys who are struggling now, they can rake if they’re on. We’re excited to see what they’ll do in the summer.”
Ewing won’t lower expectations just because of this year’s struggles. They have plenty of promise.
“I see a lot of potential,” Brodsky said. “Those juniors now have had a lot of experience, already two years of varsity baseball. So next year they’ll have even more and they’re definitely going to hit a lot better.”
Brodsky is proof of how much a player can change in a year. He focused on fixing his weaknesses to develop into a strong hitter that made himself a regular in Ewing’s lineup. He’s hoping to inspire the rest of the team to finish on a high note as they head into the summer.
“We’re going to talk to the team and get them all riled up and get them to push through the end of the season,” Brodsky said. “It’s a lot of our seniors’ last season, and hopefully they’ll do it for us and do it for themselves and try to end it on a positive note for next year.”