Crusaders fill leadership roles

What makes a good leader on the baseball field?

Is it the guy who yells, screams and goes to the whip to motivate his teammates? Is it the individual who lets his play do the talking and chooses to guide with his actions rather than his words?

Baseball is a failure sport where hitters are considered elite if they can get on base one out of three times. Errors happen frequently. Mistakes regularly occur, it's just the nature of the game.

Jesuit head coach Tim Massey says a good leader shows his team how to manage those failures both individually and as a unit. Because of the slowness of the game, there's a lot of downtime to overthink. Players can sometimes take their previous poor at-bat with them into the field, and it affects the next play.

In a way, Jesuit's Evan Haberle and Trent Werner have always been commanders for the Crusaders. As underclassmen, they consistently churned out high-caliber numbers at the plate and defended their positions on the field distinctly. Their play and production would suggest Jesuit invariably got in formation with Haberle and Werner's TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Trent Werner can play shortstop or man the outfield for the Crusaders. Werner hopes to let his play do the talking as a captain next season.

Yet, as juniors, Haberle and Werner will be the first to say they fell in line behind experienced seniors like Matt Decker and Nick Choruby, both of whom are playing high-major Division One-level hardball. It makes sense, a junior taking a backseat to his more seasoned teammate to avoid rocking the boat and causing friction amongst the crew. Now, as Haberle and Werner embark on their swan song senior season, it's on the returning duo to take the mantle and usher in the next era of Jesuit baseball.

“I have to be the one to step up and take their role,” said Haberle. “I care about this team a lot, so it matters a lot to me that everyone is on what we're trying to do and what we're trying to be. I have to help the young guys get into their roles and accept their roles.”

Ready to lead

With seven seniors graduating and as many as 10 new Crusaders arriving from either the freshmen or JV level this summer on the OIBA circuit, Haberle and Werner are aware there's a leadership void on the roster.

“We've had a lot of guys returning, and they took the wealth of the leadership responsibilities, and now we have to have some guys step out. Trent and Haberle have to be two of those guys,” said Massey. “We have some good young players, but some of them are a little nervous here, which is somewhat normal, and we haven't been in that situation for a couple years."by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Evan Haberle burst onto the scene last season at the plate, hitting .500 overall and .533 in Metro play. Haberle said he plans on being a vocal leader for the Crusaders.

They are both ready to guide, but in different ways.

Haberle said he has to be more of a vocal leader with so many inexperienced Crusaders rising to the varsity level. Werner, on the other hand, wants to show the way rather than tell it.

“From your freshman year you're a leader, but as a senior, you have to be a better role model,” said Werner. “I have to lead more by example, not so much vocally, but with my play on the field, how I hustle, what I do in the dugout. You have to always be positive and not get down on yourself or the team, or that goes all the way to the younger kids.”

Werner — who's being recruited to play college football — is getting back in the swing of things this summer after attending a couple of summer football camps. It's different, Werner said, not seeing Decker and Choruby, but he's been impressed with the young guys and is excited about their potential.

“They're great athletes and they're going to get the job done just like the guys who graduated,” said Werner. “We have a pretty good squad and we can get it done if we need to.”

Commanding bat

Werner played centerfield as a junior and his commanding bat came to life late in the season. Massey said Warner is a naturally gifted athletic shortstop with great instincts for the position. When Werner's reassured and maintains patience at the plate, that's when his Paul Bunyan power takes over. Once the ball's in play, Werner has the briskness to turn long singles into doubles and doubles into three-baggers.

“He runs so well that he's going to be hard to keep off base,” said Massey. “If you're an infielder and the ball's on the ground with his clock, you have to field it cleanly and get it off. If he was left-handed, he'd be that Ichiro kind of guy. It's just a matter of him being confident in his abilities.”

Haberle was a one-man wrecking crew and perhaps the toughest Crusader to get out at the dish last season. The season was outstanding individually for Haberle. The lefty hit a whopping .533 in league and .500 overall for the season, setting the table for the heart of Jesuit's lineup while playing relentless defense at the hot corner.

He saw his stock rise as a collegiate prospect and garnered first team all-state honors as a utility player — a rare feat for a junior. So far this summer, in spite of all the individual pats on the back, Jesuit's 3-1 loss in the second round hasn't let Haberle unwind just yet. As a kid, Haberle grew up dreaming of donning the Crusader uniform, and he's mindful of Jesuit's interminable history of eminence. In Haberle's opinion, that loss to North Salem, where Jesuit scratched together just four hits, is a black mark on the program, one that's he dying to erase.

“We want to be the state champs next year,” stated Haberle. “We don't want to get third in Metro and lose in the playoffs in the second round again. We can't let that happen. We have to hit. That's what wins championships. From the start of the game until the end of the game, we have to be hitting.

“It's about the team, it's not about me. I cared more about us losing than me making all-state, but it still felt great to be all-state.”

All lined up

Massey slotted Haberle in the leadoff spot when Jesuit scuffled at the dish midway through the season. In turn, the Crusaders took off winning 10 out of their final 11 games, primarily because Haberle was seeing more fastballs instead of curveballs. He can spray the ball to all fields as evidenced by his 5-5 display in the first round of the state playoffs against Hillsboro. Facing a left-handed Hillsboro hurler, Haberle peppered singles to left, center and right fields as well as depositing two doubles to the gaps as Jesuit rolled to an 11-4 triumph.

“He's really cerebral, he doesn't swing at a lot of bad pitches,” said Massey. “He gets a good pitch to hit, and then he's just a natural hitter. Hitting's a tough thing to do, and he just gets a lot of barrels on the ball and hits it square. He's never a soft out, and he rarely strikes out.”

Not solely a contact hitter, Haberle has surprising pop too. As a freshman the wiry left-handed Haberle hit two home runs over the net hanging over the leftfield fence. That's opposite field power from a guy Massey describes as “skinny as a rail."

“He's got great wrists, he's pretty strong and has real good timing,” said Massey. “His kinetic links all line up. He's gotten better as the season's gone on. He shortened up his swing and was a little more composed.”

In addition to leading Jesuit's summer squad, Haberle is playing for Mound Time, a club team based out of Hillsboro. He's also participating in the Area Code games and the Mariner Cup, both talent showcases created to get more glances from college and professional scouts. Oregon State and some of the Pac 12 schools have shown initial interest in the all-state selection, but Haberle said he's just focused on having a fun summer and getting as much attention as possible.

“I'm just trying to get as much exposure as I can before next season so I'm somewhere where I want to be — that's the right fit,” said Haberle. “Hopefully, the right coach sees me at the right time.”

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