Van Buren's Ethan Holmes enjoying baseball season.
There are many ways to define team chemistry.
Good teammates, fishing pals, good practice players. Ethan Holmes has a simpler version when it comes to Van Buren’s breakout season.
“There are no jerks on this team; nobody’s in it for them,” he said. “Everybody’s positive and picks each other up.”
It doesn’t hurt to win a lot of games, either.
Chase Moore’s two-out single capped Friday’s 2-1 win over Russellville, making sure the Pointers would avoid their first two-game losing streak of the season. With three 7A-West series left to play (Springdale, Har-Ber and Fayetteville), the Pointers are 13 games over the .500 mark.
“We talk about having good character and what kind of guys we like to have,” Van Buren coach David Loyd said. “It makes it easier when times are tough. Guys are pretty solid character kids are usually tough minded and bounce back from things pretty good. And it starts with Ethan — he’s a very reliable player.”
Holmes leads the Pointers in several offensive categories — average (.433), hits (26), RBIs (20), doubles (8). And, though Trevor Johnson has come out of nowhere to lead the team to a 6-0 record and spin a 1.29 earned run average, Holmes is 5-1 with nearly as many strikeouts (42) as innings pitched (44 1/3).
But mostly, Ethan Holmes is just a one of the guys.
“Leadership is everything, and he is kind of quiet, but whenever we need them he’s there for us,” senior first baseman Jeremiah Douglas said. “You know he’s going to be there.”
“Every day he comes out ready to get to work,” senior outfielder Conner Catron said. “Whether it’s hitting off the tee or working on pitching, he works his butt off. When you have guys like that, that are consistently grinding, the younger guys look up to that and want to work just as hard as him.”
Holmes, who anchors shortstop when he isn’t pitching, is steady on the diamond, too, committing just one error in 17 games.
As for being able to avoid losing streaks, Holmes has a philosophy for this, too.
“Usually after our last game, I’ll think about that game for about an hour or so, and I’ll think about everything I did and what I could have done better, then after that I’ll flush it,” Holmes said. “That way, with six or eight games left, I can move on.”
Like other kids, Holmes dabbled in other sports. Soccer and basketball were fun.
By the time he was 13, and he began playing for an elite travel team, Holmes was smitten with the baseball bug.
“That’s all I do year-round — I play in the fall, the summer, and here at school,” Holmes said. “I’m going next year to play at Oklahoma Wesleyan, so it’s a big part of my life.”
“He’s been probably our most reliable guy,” Loyd said. “He’s been really reliable on the mound, and he’s been right there as far as being one of our best hitters. He’s just a real solid hard-nosed kids.”
Van Buren, which resumes 7A-West play Tuesday with Springdale, opened the season with 10 straight victories.
But Holmes said the writing on the wall was there back in the fall.
Team chemistry rarely takes a day off.
“Ever since the fall, I just noticed something a little bit different about this group,” Holmes said. “We all mesh really well, we practice really hard, and I knew we were going to do good this season.”
“Obviously his (Holmes) hard work is showing on the field,” added Catron. “Pitching and hitting, he’s killing it.
“(But) he’s a great guy.”