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A source of strength

Hagen provides valuable leadership for the Panthers

May 17, 2010
Matt Mullally

Pake Hagen recalls how nervous he was when he cracked Rugby's varsity baseball lineup as an eighth grader.

"I just didn't want to make a mistake and let my teammates down,' Hagen said. "I made a lot of them, but my older teammates were there to pick me up."

Those days seem like ancient history for Hagen who is now a senior, but one thing he didn't forget from that first season was the importance of good leadership.

It's a role Pake's taken very seriously.

"(Just like those players before me) I want to be a positive leader and a consistent contributor,' he said.

Panther coach Jim Cameron said no question Hagen is the captain of the team.

"Just the way he works with the younger kids is impressive, Cameron said. "He does it in a manner that is encouraging and that shows a lot about his maturity. He's one of those born leaders."

As catcher, Hagen has many responsibilities. He not only is tasked with working with his battery mate in selecting pitches, but also has to be sharp defensively, keeping balls from getting past him and backing up throws to first base.

One of the biggest challenges is throwing out base runners attempting to steal. "You can work on that in practice, but it's just not the same as in a game,' he said. "You have to get a good pitch and make a strong throw (to second) and hope it gets there in time."

The catcher sees the entire field and Pake often needs to direct his fellow fielders where to make a play.

"I try and communicate out there and make sure they know the situation,' he said.

Indeed, it's a demanding position, but one that Pake fills well, Cameron adds. "Pake has a great work ethic and that's important for that position,' he said.

Of course playing behind the plate is just one side of the game for Hagen. He also has to contribute in the batter's box.

"I don't think too much, but just go with the pitch...try and make good contact.' Hagen said.

He's been one of the few players who had the privilege to play five seasons of varsity ball, and he's not taking it for granted, knowing just a few precious games remain.

"One day this is your field to play on and the next it's're on the other side of the fence,' he said. "That can be hard to grasp, but I know you have to make the most of your time. It goes fast."



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