BRISTOL - The Forestville 11U all-star team is out to a 2-1 record in District 5 Tournament pool play, good for second place in its pool with the top two teams advancing to the knockout rounds.
Much of the team’s success has been a result of Caleb Simard’s play behind the plate.
Being a catcher wasn’t always part of the plan, at least not in the mind of Corey Simard, Caleb’s father and manager. His fear was that his son would develop knee issues as a catcher, because he had done so when he played as a youth. On top of that, Caleb Simard wasn’t the biggest fan of the position when he first started playing.
“When I started, I didn’t really like it because it was a lot of work,” Caleb Simard said. “But then I started getting used to it and liking it more.”
The decision has turned out to benefit him and Forestville. Caleb Simard’s play behind the plate has been near perfect, so much so that Corey Simard sees his son as a “wall” behind the plate, especially cutting down other teams’ stolen bases.
Caleb Simard’s arm strength was apparent in Forestville’s 2-0 victory over Southington North on Wednesday. He threw out two runners trying to steal in the game, one of which had yet to even start his slide when the ball got to second base.
“Honestly, if he catches the ball, as long as he doesn’t air mail it, he can throw anyone out,” the elder Simard said. “He threw one kid out Sunday and the runner wasn’t even halfway to second base.”
One aspect Caleb Simard has struggled with is offense. Corey Simard said his son was a big part of his team’s championship run in the regular season, when it won its final 10 games. But his mentality has changed at the plate, leading to the offensive woes.
“I think he’s pressing and his pitch selection has changed,” Corey Simard said. “I think he thought it would be easier facing just 11-year-olds, as opposed to facing 12-year-olds in the regular season. But I think he just needs reps. He will get it.”
Caleb Simard shares his father’s sentiment and is confident he will get his bat going soon.
“I’ve been struggling a bit, mostly because of the little things,” Caleb Simard said. “But I’ve been working really hard and I think I’ll start hitting.”
The manager believes his son’s only real flaw is his tendency to be quiet. The way he sees it, Caleb Simard has already proven to have great potential as a player. All he has to do is believe it and develop as a leader.
“He needs to be more vocal,” Corey Simard said. “He’s more of an ‘actions speak louder than words’ kid. You have to remember he’s only 11. Once he gets older and more confident and vocal, he’s only going to get better.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org