Senior Spotlight: Benito Lopez
In and out of the varsity lineup his first three years, senior Benito Lopez was promoted to varsity full time in his final season. Participating in pitching sessions and location drills with his younger brother over the summer, Benito was ready to change his game in order to help the team win the conference championship; even transferring his role as a starting pitcher to a reliever in the bullpen.
Coming into his senior season Benito had been a starting pitcher all of his career. When asked to make the transition from starting pitcher to reliever by coach Dudley, Benito was all in; embracing the opportunity to be on varsity for a full season and help the team accomplish their goals, “I embraced the role of reliever because it’s my last year with my team and this is the most effective way I can help them.” In changing roles, Benito was forced to change his approach on the mound as well. When asked why, he replied, “As a starter you go into the game with the score tied at zero to zero with no situation to get out of, but as a reliever you are brought into a jam and are depended on to not blow the team’s lead.” A new role on the mound meant a new Benito, coming up big for his team when they needed him most throughout the season.
One of those moments was against Northwestern in extra innings. Benito was called upon to close the game out for the Hot Dogs. With a one run lead, the game rested in his hands. Stepping up in a big way, Benito threw a perfect inning, earning a save for himself and a win for the team. “I was in this exact same situation last year with the exact team, and ended up giving up a walk off hit. So to be able to come back against the same team and pickup a perfect inning save was one of the greatest feeling I’ve had,” exclaimed Benito when discussing the importance of that moment in regards to his baseball career. Hoping to carry his success in relief into sectional play, Benito has his eyes set on a conference championship as he tries to put a perfect cap on a career season.
Spending so much of his career going back and forth in between both varsity and jv, Benito was finally able to find his role on the team. Asked to sacrifice more than any other player, he responded with great poise, leaving a lasting mark on the program.
Written by: Nic Kinder
Photo courtesy of Andy Dudley