(Plainfield Central’s John Rosner wants his players well prepared for critical situations when the season starts. WillCountyBaseball.org checked in with Rosner on April 19th as his club prepared to play a solid Plainfield South team at Central’s beautiful athletic complex.)
WCB.org: Coach Rosner, what are some things that make your style of coaching and baseball here at Plainfield Central distinctive?
“I think the big thing we’ve done here, this is my fifth year now, is we try to make every single situation, whether that’s February 29th this year or April 19th, a competitive scenario. So, everything we’re doing is we’re putting kids in a position where, mentally, they’re going to have to be pressed a little bit. So, whether that’s a cage inside or it’s out here in the seventh inning that way they’re used to situations and they’re feeling comfortable.
“There’s a lot situational stuff, things that we recreate defensively to try and simulate the end of games. That feeling that you can only get in the seventh inning with the game on the line. We try and put that into place when we’re practicing. So I think that’s one thing.
“We also try and keep our guys relaxed as much as possible. It’s a different game than football and basketball where you’re running out there and if you outwork someone you have a chance to win. With baseball this isn’t necessarily the case. I’m not saying that working hard isn’t important. But sometimes you need to work smarter. You need to take a step back and say, ‘Let’s relax. Let’s play the game the way it’s meant to be played.’”
WCB.org: Coach, the competition for players in Will County is fierce. What are some things you want prospective student athletes to know about Plainfield Central baseball?
“They see what type of kids we’re producing every year. The kids that leave this program are great kids – more than the four, five, or six guys who are playing at the next level. All the kids that are just going to school. And hopefully they see that when going for four years to this program they end up better baseball players and better people at the same time. Obviously, winning helps, but if they come here they know that they’re going to play for coaches that really care about kids.”
WCB.org: Travel baseball is a huge phenomenon during the summer, and really all year round. Do you have any thoughts about how you maintain a good balance for your players between high school and travel baseball?
“I encourage the kids to play more than one sport. I was a two-sport athlete in high school and I thought it was great for me. In my opinion there’s too much year round playing. Your arm being used for 12 months is not a good thing.
“I used to fight it a little bit more. I was the head coach down at Bishop McNamara previously, and I used to get upset when I would lose kids to travel baseball. I don’t get upset anymore in the summertime. Go play for somebody else. Don’t get burned out on me. After you get three months from me maybe you’ll pick up something new from somebody else that might say the same thing but in a different way. And it might click.
“Plus if they’re playing in the summertime that’s a good thing, but it’s different now. I’m from Ottawa. It was a small town where everyone played for the town. We played doubleheaders every night. That was the thing to be at. It was a great atmosphere. Every night from 6:00-10:00 there would be people watching. So, you don’t get that any more with all the travel teams. It would be nice if that would come back a little bit.”
Plainfield Central is 6-6 right now in the brutal Southwest Prairie Conference and 14-9 overall. All four Plainfield schools – Central, North, South, and East are battling it out with Minooka for first place. On April 19th Central started a four game skid losing three in a row to Plainfield South and one to Yorkville. Central bounced back winning four out of their next five games. A tough schedule to start the year bodes well for Coach Rosner as his team prepares to make a tournament push in May.
Main photo courtesy of Plainfield Central Baseball