Back in 2002, a friend of Mike’s told him that his LYB team needed more players, and wondered if he was interested. I’d been playing catch and pitching to Mike and Kristen since they were strong enough to swing a bat. Mike made the team, and we started going to practices and then to games. It wasn’t more than 4 games into the season when Kristen told me, “Dad, I want to play, too.” The season started, she’d have to wait until next year. Come the 2003 season, both of my kids were on teams.
One thing that was made clear to both of my children, from the very beginning, was you give it 100% or you’re done. And they never failed to surprise me. One of Kristen’s teams always had trouble having the requisite 9 players for a game. They showed me and the coach that 5 of them could do the job when they beat a 9-player team one weekend. No ball was let past the infield as the kids worked their 7-year old tails off.
When they got to the majors, one of the rules permitted siblings to be placed on the same team. So, whatever team Mike was on, Kristen was automatically added to that team when she moved up.
It was 2007, on the Major League team Lucas Plumbing, that they met Mark and Luke Krasienko. Eric Morgan was their coach, and one of the best the four ever had. Eric was patient with his team, and he expected them to perform as only he knew they could. He never had to raise his voice, he never talked down to the kids, and they treated him with the same respect. Eric had a soft spot in his heart for Kristen, as she was the only girl on his team, and gave her tips throughout her LYB career, even when she wasn’t on his team.
Kristen, from Day One, had to bust her butt in order to for the other kids not to give her a hard time. Boys at that age all think, “Aw, man, we got a girl!” It took some time before some of the boys realized it was a good thing that she was on the team. She could hit and field as good as some, and better than most.
Every other year, the four of them teamed up. And whenever they played together, they had each other’s back. They stood up for one another, and they rooted for each other. Mark and Luke had been raised and taught the same ideals, go hard or go home. And that they did. All four had done time in the outfield, “the place where balls were rarely hit.” As time went on, and the quartet showed their talents, they moved forward and became regulars in the infield. And then Mark moved to the pitcher’s mound, and Mike was given the gear to go behind the plate. Kristen and Luke put in time at shortstop and 2nd base, sometimes 3rd, and could turn a quick double-play together.
Unbeknownst to any of them, all were bound for the Clearview school system.
For the first time, they weren’t playing together. Kristen was playing softball.
Kristen’s freshman year, she was playing with most of her friends on the JV Clippers softball team. Shortly after the season began, the 1st baseman on the Varsity became ineligible due to her grades, and Kristen was called up. She played most of the season there and lettered her first year. Now, she’s the starting 1st baseman for the JV, does some time at 3rd, and swings one of the biggest bats on the team.
Mike and Mark played their sophomore and freshman year together, respectively, and were joined by Luke this year.
Mark gradually worked his way back on the mound. Finishing his LYB career as the go-to man as a closer, Mark began starting games for Clearview. With him on the mound, the team has a much-better-than-average chance of winning games. He’s also a dangerous baserunner.
Luke has got a glove where hits go to die. Grounders or flies, if they’re hit to him, you can expect him to make the play. He knows where the play is before he’s gloved the ball. And if he gets on base, he’s also a threat to steal.
Mike finished his LYB career splitting time between 1st base and catcher. It didn’t take too many games for him to love his time behind the plate. Mike’s passion for the game and the position has turned him into a brick wall behind the plate, and a catcher that the pitchers have come to trust. And if he gets on first, it’s only a few pitches before he’s standing on 3rd.
Mike and Mark had a good chance to move to the Varsity this year, but word got back that the powers-that-be wanted to keep the three of them together. So, with Mark on the mound, Mike behind the plate, and Luke playing straight-away centerfield, the trio is teamed up again. And with Kristen on the adjoining field, the quartet is still together.