MARINERS 14, TUCKERS 2 (5 INNINGS)
Coaches are instructors and players are pupils. That doesn’t mean, as Rick Hinrichs has found, that a coach cannot learn from his players.
In what has been a trying season for Hinrichs’ Mattituck softball team, the Tuckers have had an impact in changing his outlook on things. Like many coaches, Hinrichs brings an intensity to the game. He has learned, however, that losing a game is not the end of the world.
“At first it drove me crazy that they were laughing and smiling” after a loss, Hinrichs said, “and then, after a while, you say: ‘You know what? Maybe they have the right outlook on things.’ ”
Certainly, Mattituck has endured its share of adversity. Last year, Hinrichs’ first in charge of the team, the Tuckers went 8-12. This year they have no true pitching specialist — a virtual necessity for a team to even come close to the playoffs. In addition, the Tuckers lack depth. The results have been as could be expected. With their 14-2 mercy-rule loss in Southampton on Saturday, their record fell to 2-13, 2-12 in Suffolk County Conference IV. It was Mattituck’s fifth straight loss.
Hinrichs said he has never experienced a rough season quite like this before. Despite it all, though, he has been heartened by the attitude and spirit his players have shown.
“They go out there and they get beat, and they get beat well sometimes,” he said. “We’d get beaten badly, and they still keep an up attitude. That takes something. That certainly taught me a lot. They always have hope. They always come out like, ‘O.K., we’re going to get them today.’ And they come to practice, and they’re happy. Yeah, that’s good stuff.”
Perhaps no person is better suited to observe the change in the coach’s demeanor than his daughter, Jackie Hinrichs, a senior who pitches and plays shortstop for the Tuckers.
“I think he’s more relaxed with us,” she said. “I’ve seen him coach my brothers’ teams and stuff, and he was a little crazy.”
Rick Hinrichs had coached his daughter on Little League, travel and summer league teams before these past two years at the varsity level. If he had a chance to do it over again, he said, he wouldn’t, out of consideration for his daughter.
“It’s just too much for her,” he said. “I think the problem is you want to be fair. You try real hard to be fair.”
But the temptation for a coach is to be tougher on his or her own child. “I probably was too tough on her at times,” he said.
“The other thing is socially for her. It’s not an easy thing,” he continued. “I love being around her and I love coaching her, but that part, socially, what she has to deal with, I felt bad for her.”
Asked what it is like playing for her father, Jackie Hinrichs said: “It’s tough because we have our arguments on the field and then it carries over at home, and I don’t want to hear it, but I like it. I think it’s a good experience for me.”
Jackie Hinrichs said she is something of a perfectionist who is hard on herself when things don’t go well. “I’m not a sore loser,” she explained. “It just gets me when we lose. I really like to win. Let’s just say that.”
Wins have been hard to come by for Mattituck. Saturday’s game followed a familiar pattern for the Tuckers. They started off well enough and were competitive for a few innings before the game got away from them.
“I don’t know how to look at it,” said Mattituck catcher Courtney Ficner, who took a team-leading .576 batting average into the game. “It was good, but it was bad.”
Southampton held a 5-2 lead before breaking the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning thanks to three hits and three outfield errors.
“That’s been our formula all year, that we hang tough early,” Rick Hinrichs said. “We’re in the ball game and then around the fifth or the sixth we have a killer and, sayonara, it’s over.”
Caroline Rumph and Karina Fengler knocked in three runs each as Southampton (6-9, 6-9) snapped a three-game losing streak. The League VII game was halted in the bottom of the fifth inning after Victoria Shimkus scored on a sacrifice bunt by Fengler to provide the 12-run margin that put the mercy rule into effect.
Rumph, who doubled twice, also scored three runs, as did Shimkus. Kayla Pike added two hits with two runs batted in for the Mariners, who honored eight seniors on Senior Day. Southampton’s pitcher, Ellie Curreri, struck out five batters and walked none.
Melissa Siegfried, Ficner and Corinne Araneo combined for all six of Mattituck’s hits. They had two hits apiece. Ficner drove in both of Mattituck’s runs from a single.
Rick Hinrichs probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that his daughter wasn’t happy with the game. He said she is a perfectionist, just like he used to be. He said, “As we get old, we mellow out.”
Perhaps a daughter can learn from her father.