Hudson baseball captains Corey Strazek and Connor Rubin learn to lead on the fly, confident with where team is headed

Ashley Bastock
Akron Beacon Journal
Hudson first baseman Corey Strazek is one of the Explorers' team captains this year, alongside fellow senior Connor Rubin.

Hudson baseball's Corey Strazek and Connor Rubin have gotten their first taste of leadership at the varsity level this season.

They've also gotten their first significant varsity experience period in 2021.

Strazek and Rubin, Hudson's two senior captains, have spent the last two months learning to adapt to the varsity game, but also learning how to bring the rest of their teammates along with them. 

"I'm grateful for it," Strazek said following Hudson's 12-2 win over Twinsburg on Tuesday. "It's a blessing to come out here and play and help lead the team, especially after a team win when guys are looking up to me or asking questions, what to do. I'm always happy to help, especially the underclassmen too, who are getting their first varsity experience. I'm also learning too and trying to teach them.

"I realized fast that the varsity level moves at a faster pace than junior varsity, freshman. I wouldn't say it's a struggle. We're having a decent season, playing well, finding our groove. Hopefully we'll be able to keep it up." 

The duo may be getting their first varsity experience after the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Rubin said in many ways that's made them more appreciative of their current leadership roles.

"With the year that we missed, just to have a year where we get to play baseball is just amazing," he said. "It's a blessing. To be a team captain for these guys is awesome. They are a great group of guys and it's a privilege to be able to be a leader of these guys." 

Coach Buddy Dice said the process to pick team captains every year involves a weighted voting system, with more power given to upperclassmen and returning varsity players. There's also an interview with Dice, who also gathers input from his assistant coaches and ultimately gets the final choices cleared with school administration.

With Strazek and Rubin, Dice said the lack of prior varsity experience for both hasn't deterred them from a leadership role. 

"For Connor and Corey, when you look at coming into the season without any varsity experience, and with a team that has been like that, they've carried a lot of weight on their shoulders and I think they've handled that well," Dice said. "It's not easy when you look at the teams we play, whether it's in our league or the non-league games, expectations are high. They've done everything they've been asked to do, so I'm quite pleased with them." 

Hudson  (13-8, 9-4 Suburban League National Conference) now has six wins in its last eight games. 

As the season has progressed, Rubin said he thinks the Explorers have really improved in terms of committing fewer errors, leading to more wins in recent weeks.

"We were kind of able to shut that down and get better on defense," he said. "We were able to kind of just slow the game down a little bit between the ears and come out and be able to fight in any situation." 

Hudson opens postseason play on Monday in the Division I Euclid District. The No. 12-seeded Explorers will take on No. 34 Euclid at home at 5 p.m. 

"I feel like we're in a great spot," Strazek said. "We're definitely finding our stride. We just have to keep it up and keep playing our game. Not doing too much, just kind of doing our job, and hopefully live to the next game." 

Dice is the first to admit that strange things can happen in the postseason and there are no games that are givens. 

However, he said overall he's remained happy with how the team has progressed despite some big losses throughout the year.

"Anything can happen in the tournament," Dice said. "But getting some 16- and 17-year-old kids to believe that, that's what makes it fun."