One of the top hitters in the Catholic League, Adam Estrada hopes to improve not just his own numbers, but the number of wins for the team.
It didn’t take Adam Estrada long to find out how tough high school baseball is.
Two years ago, Estrada made the Archbishop Ryan High School varsity team as a freshman. He didn’t last long.
His first nine at-bats all ended the same way, with a strikeout. After that, he was moved down to the junior varsity team to get his swing right.
“It was really hard, everything about it,” said Estrada, who lives in Frankford. “I was thinking two things, I kind of felt like they weren’t going to expect much of me because I was just a freshman, but then I made the team as a freshman, so I thought they had high hopes for me.
“It was bad for confidence. I was really upset because I tried everything, but I couldn’t get a hit. Once I went down (to JV), I came back up after three games. In my first game back, I hit a home run. After that, I felt a lot better. I started to get settled down.”
And ever since, the first baseman has become one of the top hitters in the Catholic League. Last year, he hit .429, which led the league in average. And, once again, as he got more comfortable, he became a better player.
“In the beginning of the year, I just tried to hit the ball all over the field, just spray it around,” said Estrada, who started as an outfielder as a freshman and moved to his natural position of first base last year. “Then after I got really comfortable, that’s when I started hitting for power. I hit a bunch of doubles and a triple. I just felt so much better. Last year was so much better for me than it was when I was a freshman. I had confidence and every time I went out, I was comfortable. I was just a better player.”
Estrada made a name for himself last year as a hitter, and as he became a better player, the Raiders became a better team.
Ryan finished 8–4 in Catholic League play, which was good enough to be in a three-way tie for second place in the division. The Raiders then went on to win two playoff games, including an upset triumph over top-seeded Archbishop Carroll in the quarterfinals. They eventually lost to Neumann-Goretti, which went on to win the Catholic League championship.
The Raiders came out of nowhere to enjoy a memorable year and that raises the stakes for this year. At least that’s how Estrada sees it.
“Last year was really good because every time we won, we were doing better than everyone thought we would,” Estrada said. “I believed we would be good. I think we all knew we would be good. But nobody who wasn’t here expected us to be good.
“This year, because we only had five seniors on the team last year, now people expect us to do better. I think doing well in the playoffs last year showed everybody what we could do.”
Estrada also knows teams will be gameplanning for him.
And that means he might not see as many fastballs as he did last year. And because of that, Estrada will have a different approach at the plate.
His goal isn’t to put up monster numbers, it’s to put up a lot of wins.
“Last year, I was an unknown, nobody knew who I was, so I went up looking for a first-pitch fastball and I was able to jump on a lot of pitchers because they didn’t know I could hit,” Estrada said. “This year, I know I’m going to see a lot of curveballs and off-speed pitches, so I’ll have to make sure I do what I’m supposed to do.
“I’ll probably take more pitches, but there’s going to be guys who throw great curveballs and I’ll have to make sure I hit that, too. When I can, I’ll walk, and when that’s not there, I’ll have to make adjustments just like they’re doing to me.”
The good news for Estrada is that the Raiders’ lineup is full of players who can make noise at the plate, so teams won’t want to walk anyone, including last year’s top hitter.
And that potent lineup, coupled with a stingy pitching staff, gives Estrada high hopes for his junior year.
“We have a lot of seniors this year, and they have experience, they’re good players, too,” Estrada said. “I think we could be one of the best teams in the Catholic League. It’s tough, there’s a lot of good teams, but we could win, definitely. That’s what our coaches expect, so it’s what we expect.”
Estrada hopes he can do his part again. And even if he starts out cold, he now knows he can turn it around.
“Freshman year was so much worse than my sophomore year,” Estrada said. “There was nothing fun about starting out without getting a hit. Last year, I went 1-for-2 in the first game and then I felt better. I hope to start out well this year and keep it going.”