RAYMONDVILLE — For Raymondville head baseball coach Judson Savage, pitcher Ricky Hernandez has been the rock that has anchored his team down.
True, the Bearkats might not be having the type of season they would have hoped for, but as Coach Savage explained: “Ricky is the reason we have been in a lot of games. He is a phenomenal leader for me on and off the field. He’s the first one to show up to practice and the last one to leave. He’s that kind of guy. He’s my No. 1 pitcher right now, there’s no doubt about it.
The two-time District 32-4A honorable mentioned selection is no stranger to hard work, either.
“He is the epitome of dedication,” Savage said. “It’s because of kids like him that my job is a little less stressful. Younger kids look up to him and say they want to be like him.
The ValleyMorning Star had an opportunity to talk to Hernandez and ask a few questions.
Q: When did you first get interested in playing baseball and why?
A: When I was 4 years old I first started playing baseball. I was interested in the sport because ever since then that’s really the only sport I’ve played until middle school. I played football and basketball, but it wasn’t the same as playing baseball. My freshman year, I played basketball only then after that I started baseball. After my freshman year, I decided not to play basketball and just focus on baseball.
Q: Describe your most rewarding experience playing baseball.
A: My most rewarding experience during baseball would have to be my freshman year when I got moved up to the varsity team to pitch. I pitched one district game. I was so nervous but after that I pitched a playoff game. Raymondville hadn’t made the playoffs in a couple of years and pitching the first playoff game made me nervous, but that was also a great experience.
Q: What advice do you have for the younger athletes that want to get into the sport?
A: My advice for younger kids is that baseball is a great sport. Some may think it’s boring, but you just have to love the game and make it fun. Baseball isn’t like any other sport. There is no clock and you have to play out by out and inning by inning.
Q: How do you prepare for a game?
A: I don’t really do much before to prepare for a game. I just get ready mentally and think about what I have to do during the game and think about different plays.
Q: As an athlete, what was the best advice you were ever given?
A: The best advice I was given was that in high school and college your talent or hard work on the field means nothing without hard work in the classroom.
Q: What is the toughest part of baseball?
A: The toughest part of baseball has to be when you’re losing to a team and you see your teammates giving up. I always try to encourage my teammates that the game isn’t over until the 7th inning when there’s three outs.
Q: This is your senior season. What are you going to miss most after graduation?
A: After graduation I’m going to miss playing baseball for Raymondville. I didn’t think my four years of high school would go by so quickly. This is my senior season and I’m going to make the best of it with the great team that I have behind me.
Q: What’s the one thing you always have to have on you?
A: One thing I always have to have on me is my necklace because it’s a cross made of bats. I have to take it off during games and I wish I didn’t have to.
Q: If you had a time machine where would you go and why?
A: If I had a time machine I would probably go back in time just to relive all those good memories in Little League and relive my high school season again.