Scholar athlete: Patel adjusting to playing baseball with Trinity Episcopal
NATCHEZ — Baseball wasn’t too difficult an adjustment for Alex Patel — until he got nailed a few times.
“The first time, it didn’t really hurt that bad,” the Trinity Episcopal Day School sophomore said. “Then I got popped in the nose.”
Patel lost the ball in the sunlight during a practice, only to have it smack him dead in the face before his eyes were able to spot it. To add insult to injury, Patel was also pegged in the elbow and thigh during live pitches before a game early this season.
“It was my welcome-to-baseball moment,” Patel joked.
Despite the bumps and bruises, Patel said he enjoys his newest sport, even if it’s added to a workload that already includes tennis and schoolwork. An A-B student, Patel said the schedule of having practice or games after school has been the most difficult adjustment.
“I’m used to getting my homework done and just chilling, but it doesn’t bother me,” Patel said. “It’s just different.”
Patel has already caught the eye of Trinity head baseball coach Kyle Ketchings, who said he’s been impressed with the young center fielder’s work ethic.
“Alex runs everywhere he goes,” Kyle said. “He does anything we ask him to do, and he’s one of my favorite players because of that.”
Having the discipline to work hard at everything is something Patel said is important, whether it’s with school or sports.
“I’m just a hard worker,” Patel said. “Coming home at 10 (at night) and doing homework, that kills me, but I get it done. I recently stayed up until 1 in the morning, but the next day was just a normal day. I was a little tired, but I kept moving.”
Cole Hornsby, a friend of Patel’s, was the one who convinced him to give baseball a shot. After listening to a sales pitch from his friend, Patel said he thought it would be a good idea to give baseball a try.
“I was surprised I was any good for never having held a bat or a baseball,” Patel said.
The camaraderie of the sport is what’s kept Patel interested even with the rough moments of getting pegged several times.
“I enjoy being in the dugout and having my teammates around me,” Patel said.
Ketchings said he’s been impressed with Patel’s development ever since he started practicing this spring.
“You can be a good athlete and play football, but there’s a big difference between being an athlete and a baseball player,” Ketchings said. “That’s something he’s battled with, and he’s done a great job at progressing.”
Patel admitted the more experienced players on Trinity’s team intimidated him when he first started practicing, but that’s gone away over time. Though Patel said he still has a long way to go learning the sport, Ketchings said he’s already made an impact on the team’s veteran players.
“People build off his work ethic,” Ketchings said. “He’s out here doing extra things, and that humbles a lot of people and makes some of these more experienced guys realize they have to work for this kid.”
Patel has played tennis for more than a year and is doubles partners with Trinity’s Jacob Porter. He said he has no favorite between baseball and tennis.
“It’s just a fun sport,” Patel said of tennis. “Even when you get old, you’ll still be able to play. You also meet a lot of people playing both.”
With his spring sports schedule already crammed, Patel may also add an activity to his fall schedule as well.
“They’re trying to get me to play football, so I might do that,” Patel said. “I’ll have to see, but I probably will.”
Patel is the son of Ashok and Sonal Patel.