LISLE – It’s not unheard of for a shortstop to move to third base or second base.
But a catcher going to shortstop? That’s a bit more rare.
That’s the transition Kevin Coppin is making right now for Lisle’s baseball team.
“It’s been different,” the junior said. “I haven’t played too much shortstop in my whole career so it’s kind of different, but I like it.”
Lisle coach Peter Meyer said Coppin caught about 90 percent of the Lions’ games this year, but the left side of his infield was struggling in the field and he couldn’t afford to keep Coppin’s offensive production on the bench, so he switched him to shortstop.
“He’s always been a catcher, but he’s also played some infield for us and he’s a very good infielder,” Meyer said. “Our infielders weren’t making the plays and he is.”
So far Coppin has played three games at short: Thursday’s Interstate Eight Conference game against Dwight and Saturday’s nonconference doubleheader against Wheaton Academy. He quickly is adjusting to the demands of the position.
“When you catch, you’re in on the play all the time,” said Coppin, who has played catcher as long as he has played baseball. “With shortstop, it’s more reacting to the ball off the bat and how to read the ball. It took me a little while to know if I need to charge it quickly or stay back on it, when to dive for it or when to stay on my feet.”
Not being in on every play and learning when to make the right plays have been part of the adjustment process for Coppin. But perhaps the hardest part about the switch has been leaving behind a pitching staff that he helped shape this season, particularly senior starters Alex Ventrella and Ryan Van Volkenburg.
“I’ve been catching them a couple years. I miss it because there’s nothing like catching a third-strike curveball,” said Coppin, who was replaced behind the plate by Jake Oard. “It was basically catching for college pitchers, and I miss catching for them a little bit because they’re my boys. They’re the guys I hang out with on the weekends. Now instead of catching them I’m trying to make plays for them.”
Meyer said he plans to keep Coppin at shortstop when the Lions open the playoffs tonight. As far as next season goes, Coppin will play almost anywhere as long as he’s in the lineup.
“I really like shortstop now, but I know for my travel team I’m not going to be a shortstop because we have so many of them,” Coppin said. “I’d say I’m 50/50 on it. I like both. As long as I get to play, I’ll play either one.”