Freshman Feature: Improvement is key for Mitch Blackstone
Mitch Blackstone’s father, Frank Blackstone, played a huge role in getting him involved in game of baseball. “As a kid he introduced me to baseball at a very young age,” he said. From this point on Mitch wanted to do anything he could to improve his game. “I wanted to learn the fundamentals of the game and find ways to get better,” he said. His passion for baseball grew exponentially because of him. “ My father helped me grow a deeper appreciation for the game,” he said.
Mitch definitely had some success at the high school level, as his accolades will prove. He was a two-time 5A state player of the year in 2014 and 2015, in addition to being named to the 1st team all Washington, D.C, All-Metropolitan area team as a catcher. In spite of all his success, playing beyond the high school level wasn’t something he believed was going to happen. One day his outlook changed. “During July of his junior summer Bill Walkenbach the head coach of Cornell baseball at the time saw me play at Catholic University,” he said.
“I decided that I liked the vibe he was giving me and thought he was someone I could see as my future prospective coach,” he said. This began to peak his interest in receiving a quality education from a great school, while also being apart of a close-knit team. “I took a visit up here a couple of times and decided after that, that this was the place I wanted to be and the team I wanted to be apart of,” Mitch said.
Throughout his career he has always been a person who is concerned with how he can contribute to the team, not with individuals goals. “I want to contribute to the team as much as possible whether that be on the field hitting, catching, or whatever it may be, I could really care less about how well I do, as long as it will benefit us winning the championship,” he said.
He has some strengths and weaknesses. Consistency was what he mentioned as his biggest weakness. “Some days I will catch really well and have really good framework and blocking technique and will have no problem throwing to the bases or back to the pitcher and then the next day I might find myself dropping a ball or making an overthrow,” he said. “ I would like to see more consistency behind the plate.
The best way he feels he can contribute to the team’s success now is with his bat. “I have always seen the ball well behind the batters box and have never really struggled except for my freshman year in high school, so I think this year if anything the best way to contribute to my teams success would most likely be with the bat,” he said.
He is always looking for ways to improve. “Each week I find something that can be worked on in my game, particularly when I am hitting in the cages, or in batting practice on the field. I will usually be thinking about mostly mechanical processes. The overlying message being that if you have a sound process and sound mechanics that you will be able to be successful when it really matters,” Mitch said. “For me when I am thinking about the mechanics of my swing I am focusing on keeping short hands through the pitch and then pulling off right before the ball crosses the plate,” he said.
The catcher position isn’t all glorious. “One of the brutal things about this position is that it really takes a toll on your knees and I definitely have a little bit less mobility from playing the position over the years,” he said.
Mitch described himself as easy going. “I never take anything too seriously and have always thoroughly enjoyed playing baseball and the piano as well as maintaining a strong relationship with my family. I find that personal freedom and autonomy to be a large part of who I am”, he said.