While interviewing Marist baseball’s first baseman and designated hitter, Tyler Kapuscinski, Marist’s head baseball coach, Chris Tracz, walked into the conference room. He pointed at Tyler’s old, battered journals and said, “I have more of those for you.”
You should’ve seen Tyler’s eyes light up.
The red-shirt senior was prepared to start the season with a homemade version of the journals he’s used for three years. He drew a strike zone to track pitches and left space below to write results, observations, and any other thoughts down. After stopping in Coach Tracz’s office, he’s got a stack of new journals to choose from instead.
“Honestly the biggest thing for me is being able to have something to look at throughout the game and write down what I want to have on paper,” Kapuscinski said.
“Kap” was introduced to hitting journals by former Associate Head Coach Eric Pelletier, who is now an assistant coach at Bryant University. Pelletier gave out journals to all of the hitters early in the preseason, explaining that it is a good way to clear your mind before your next at-bat.
“I had never done anything like that before, but I tried it in few pre-season at-bats and I kind of liked it,” Kap said. “I liked how I could go through my at-bat mentally and get it down on paper and clear it.”
So what exactly goes into the journal?
The journal, labeled “Marist Baseball Rake Chart,” is about six inches tall and four inches wide, binded at the top. The top half of each page has an image of home plate and a strike zone, for pitch tracking. The bottom half has lines to track ten at-bats and write comments.
“Since I’ve been keeping the journal, I just take it ten at-bats at a time. That’s how I gauge how I’m doing at the time,” Kap explained.
The comments change depending on how he’s hitting in those at-bats. If he’s hitting well, he might write something like “Seeing [the ball] well, you good.” If he needs to make an adjustment with his swing mechanics, he writes something like, “Dropped shoulder, level swing next time.” When an umpire made a bad call, he wrote “Blue expanded the zone, nothing you can do.” On one page, for a pitcher that must’ve had a good breaking ball, he wrote “FRISBEE!”
And if he’s not doing well?
“I’ll get kind of explicit on here. I really use it to just clear my head and get ready for the next at-bat,” Kap said. “I pretty much just vent.”
Whether the comments are positive or negative, the results show that the journal is working. In his red-shirt freshman season, his lone collegiate season without the hitting journals, he hit .335, had an on-base percentage of .440, and slugged .410. Combine the on-base percentage and slugging percentage and you get an above-average On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) of .850.
In his red-shirt sophomore season, the first year with the journals, his numbers jumped. He hit .366, with an on-base percentage of .450, and a slugging percentage of .511. That’s a great OPS of .961.
In his red-shirt junior season, he hit .366 again, his on-base percentage rose to .469, and his slugging percentage rose to .531. His OPS? Exactly 1.000, which is elite. He also hit four home runs, a career high so far.
But that won’t stop his teammates from giving him a hard time.
“It’s never negative, it’s always playful, they just make fun of me because after an at-bat I’d go sit in the dugout and furiously write in my journal every once in awhile,” Kap said through fits of laughter. “They understand why I do it. It’s not for everybody, but it works for me.”
“I tell people that I think it’s a really good idea and I definitely recommend it to anyone that is trying to improve their mental side of the game,” Kap explained.
When asked about the upcoming season, Kap said he just wants to be a consistent producer for the team. He’s really excited to start the season and see what this team can do.
“I think we have the kind of pitching to really compete. We have a lot of young guys who haven’t proven themselves yet, but they have the stuff to be effective,” Kap said. “I think we’re going to be really competitive down South and especially in the MAAC.
The Red Foxes will open the season with a weekend series at South Florida from February 14-16. They will spend the next month traveling the South, before returning home to welcome Niagara in the MAAC home-opener on Saturday, March 21st.
Edited by Dylan Kusmuk