An Eagle finds his wings

The Baltimore Sun

Northeast's John Hodges, a senior pitcher-infielder, just completed his second straight seven-win season (7-3), although the season didn't end the way he had hoped.

After winning the Anne Arundel County championship, Hodges and the No. 9 Eagles had their sights sets on a state championship. Those hopes were dashed by No. 8 Fallston, 5-4, in the Class 3A East regional final Saturday.

The right-hander now must look ahead, as he is deciding between CCBC-Dundalk and CCBC-Catonsville.

Hodges, who also played a couple of years of basketball at Northeast, played four years of baseball at the Pasadena school. He joined the varsity team halfway through his sophomore year, and by last season he was one of the team's top players.

Hodges has a 3.0 grade-point average and hopes to get into sports medicine or physical training.

How tough was it losing your last game in the 3A East regional final?

It's pretty depressing. We played tough the entire game, and to be honest, I thought we were going to win. Brody [Kean] pitched, despite his bad back, and you could tell it was bothering him.

Winning a state title was the goal this season, right?

Yes, it was, and we believed we could. We put in a lot of hard work and thought we were in pretty good shape to do it.

How long will the loss stay with you?

I will think about it for quite a while. It will be on my mind for a long, long time, and I can only try to think of something positive when it comes up in mind.

So, what was the reaction after the game ended on Saturday?

We got together as a team and were shocked. Our parents were really upset.

What did you and some of your teammates do Saturday night?

We hung out and went to dinner at Texas Road House and had a big old steak to try and get it out of our minds.

Does winning the county championship over two-time defending champion Arundel give you a memory from this season to cherish?

Yeah, that was amazing, unbelievable. What a great feeling. I pitched and got the game-winning hit in the seventh. It was something I will never forget.

You hit the ball off the fence in the seventh of the county championship. It was nearly a grand slam. How many homers did you hit in your career?

Just one, but I must have hit the fence 15 times.

What will you remember about the Northeast team?

I'll remember all of the good friends I made in four years of baseball and all of the hard work we put in together.

How was the transition to coach Adam Bolling, who replaced Larry Williams after six seasons?

It was easy. Mr. Williams was an amazing coach, and Coach Bolling knew everything about the program after being Mr. Williams' assistant for five years. He [Bolling] changed a few things and had stricter practices, and we went 18-5.

How old were you when you started playing baseball, and how old were you when you started pitching?

I started at age 4 or 5 in T-ball, and I started pitching at about 9 or 10. My dad [John Sr.] was a big influence on me as I grew up playing in Havenwood. Coach Tom Caines from Havenwood was also an influence.

Whom did you play for last summer to get ready for your senior year?

I played for the Lakers, coached by Gary Bishop. A lot of our high school players were on the team.

What is in your pitching repertoire?

Fastball, curveball, knuckleball, and I drop down sometimes on my fastball and curve. My dad helped me with my mechanics over the years.

So what's it look like for college?

I'm going to have to get bigger and stronger. I need to hit the weights and get my body in shape to help my velocity. I'm 6-2 and 155 pounds and would like to put on about 15 to 20 pounds. I need to use a lot of free weights and rubber bands for pitching. I've tried protein shakes, but they're nasty.

What are your ultimate goals?

To play in junior college, then get into a four-year university, get a good education, and if I can't take baseball farther, get a job that pays well.

What was the Northeast baseball experience like for you?

It was a great program with great coaches. I would have loved to win a state championship, but I was proud to be an Eagle.

Pat O'Malley

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