obby Kaufman said playing baseball takes a lot of concentration: Whether you’re trying to decide what kind of a pitch the pitcher is going to throw you, or if you are playing outfield and you have to make a decision on where to throw the ball if it’s going to be hit to you.

“Baseball will eat you up,” Kaufman said. “You make one mistake, and you let it get to you, and the game will just eat you up. You have to make sure that you keep your mind straight so you know what’s going on. It’s like ‘so what, next pitch.’ That’s what we like to say. If you don’t get that fastball, you’ve got to think ‘so what, next pitch. Curveball? Sit back on it. Fastball? Be on it.’

“That’s another thing in the outfield. If there is a runner on first, don’t let him advance. Throw it in to your cutoff, always hit your cutoff. Just play the basics.”

Kaufman, a senior at Seymour, said he enjoys all aspects of baseball.

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During preseason, the Owls practice inside the high school.

“Our pitching machine in there does a really good job,” he said. “We can crank up the speed where we want it and change the location and go inside or outside. It throws curve balls, change ups. It will do whatever we tell it to do for just about everything.”

The senior’s baseball career began at the age of 4-years-old, playing T-ball.

“I used to play a lot of third base when I was younger, and once I got to high school I started playing left field and center field,” Kaufman said. “I really enjoy playing left field. In between every pitch I’m always picking up some grass and throwing it up to see which way the wind is going, and communicate with the other outfielders.

On the field, the Owls rely on clear, concise communication to manage success.

“Communication is very important,” Kaufman said. “In the game against Lowell, there was a ball in left-center and I could get to it a lot better than Luis (Munoz) could and I said, ‘I, I, I,’ and he said, ‘Bob, you, you, you,’ and the same thing would happen if I was running in toward the infield and I could get to the ball easier than the shortstop or third baseman. If we both called for it, somebody would say ‘get out.’”

Growing up, Kaufman also played travel ball.

“It just helped getting more experience at the plate, getting to see different pitches and different arms,” Kaufman said. “I know if a guy is throwing harder I have to be a little quicker with the bat. If a guy is not throwing as hard, kind of sit back and just do what I can and try to drive it to the opposite field.

“Also, it got me experience out in the field so I knew what my dominant position was going to be when I got to high school.”

Kaufman said he believes the Owls need to be at the top of their game every time they take the field because of the schedule the team faces.

“We’re going to play some tough, ranked teams this year,” Kaufman said. “We’ve shown that we can hang with those teams. We’ve proven we can play with those teams. It’s just a matter of speaking to that and keeping our energy going, and focusing and knowing we can play with those teams.”

For this year’s team, mental toughness will prove one of the toughest tests.

“Our defense really isn’t a question,” Kaufman said. “We do a very good job in the field. We just have to keep our heads in the game and just play like we know how to play. We’ve played with each other forever so we know as long as we stay focused we’re going to do well, we’re going to prosper. Practices are really important getting us ready for games.”

When on base, Kaufman always looks to steal.

“You always have to watch the pitcher and make sure he’s going home, and he’s not coming back at you to try to pick you off,” Kaufman said. “Also, with the catcher it’s your own read. If it’s a passed ball and you think you can get to second, even if the coach calls a steal or not, you’ve got to take the base if that’s what you’ve got to do.”

In all athletics, trusting both your teammates and self is important, according to Kaufman.

“You have to believe in yourself, and believe in your team no matter what,” Kaufman said. “Like in football you have to rely on your teammates and know that they’re going to get the job done so that you’re going to have that hole to hit or you’re going to have that wide open pass from the quarterback.”

off the diamond

Parents: Rob and Melissa Kaufman

Sports: baseball 4 years, football 3 years

Home games: “We have a beautiful facility here. We’re really blessed with everything that we have. We (players) have our assignments after every game, after every practice. We all know what to do. I drag the baselines, people work on the infield, pitchers mound and the plate. We do what we can to keep this place looking 100 percent and beautiful and everybody has a nice place to play.”

Favorite away fields: Floyd Central, Columbus East, New Albany.

Organizations: Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership

Attending SHS: “I love Seymour. It’s what I’ve always known. Growing up I just couldn’t wait to be here and walking the halls. I’ve just really had a great high school career with teachers, my friends and everything, and making memories I know are going to last. I wouldn’t trade my high school career in baseball for anything. I’ve had a lot of fun.”

Plans after high school: Attend University of Indianapolis, major in accounting

Favorite food: Hot wings

Favorite TV show: “House of Cards”

Favorite musicians: Led Zeppelin

Favorite movie: “Oh Brother, Where art Thou?”

Favorite athlete: David Ortiz

Favorite team: Boston Red Sox

Favorite book: Catcher In The Rye

Favorite quote: “Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical,” – Yogi Berra.”

Author photo
Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.