Somewhere near Marvin Ridge High School there is a pond.
Technically, it belongs to shortstop Mark Glover and his family, but over the past two seasons, it has become a home for more than any one player.
One day after practice last year, Glover asked his teammates if they’d like to come over and go fishing. On a whim, they obliged.
They loved it. They came again and again and before long, fishing became as much a part of the Marvin Ridge baseball team as the game that first united them. Two or three times a week, they’ll try to get together at the Glover’s pond or Lake Norman or, well, just about anywhere they can find.
“We’re real tight-knit,” outfielder Alex Leshock said. “We try to spend as much time as possible together.”
That camaraderie earned the Mavericks their first ever 3A state championship last year, and this weekend, they’ll have a chance to repeat. After knocking off Ledford in the West Region final, the Mavericks will face Topsail in a best-of-three series that starts Friday in Burlington.
But to repeat, Marvin Ridge will need more than weekly outings on the lake. Coach Mark Mennitt said it’ll take clean defense behind solid pitching for his team to pull out another title.
And runs, of course. That’s where Leshock, one of the team’s offensive leaders, comes in.
“That dude, if he doesn’t have a perfect game, he’s disappointed in himself,” teammate Cory Parr said. “He holds himself to such a high standard.
“Obviously so, he’s had a great year.”
Last season, his first on the varsity team, Leshock batted .411 with 30 hits. This season, he has more than 50 hits from the leadoff position.
“He’s been a catalyst,” Mennitt said. “He’s been unbelievable.”
Leshock said he tries not to let the pressure of his role get to him. He wants to be relaxed and loose, he said, and the team has adopted the same mantra.
That, more than anything, was obvious at practice on Wednesday afternoon.
During bunting drills, a few players started using their bats like putters, playing a sort of baseball golf. They talked about school and their friends, and then fishing.
But for one weekend, they’ll put that all on the back burner, Leshock included. Besides, he’s more dangerous with a bat in his hand than a fishing rod.
“He’s not the best fisherman I’ve ever met,” Parr said, “but he likes it.”