2024, Varsity Baseball | May 31, 2024

Nick Robinson has gone from almost cut to all-conference for Lake Central

nwitimes – Grace Opinker

ST. JOHN — Nick Robinson spent every spring playing baseball since he was 4 years old. His dreams were came close to getting crushed when he was nearly cut from Lake Central’s team as a freshman 2021.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Robinson said on Wednesday. “It’s kind of hard to hear you might be cut from the sport you’ve always played.”

Although Lake Central’s coaching staff saw weaknesses in Robinson’s arm strength and swing, they spotted his raw talent and athleticism.

On the last day of tryouts, the coaching staff pulled Robinson into the dugout, along with two other players and offered the group a chance to prove themselves at an extra tryout day.

Coach Mike Swartzentruber’s decision to give Robinson an extra shot and Robinson’s decision to show out one more day proved choices neither coach nor player would regret. Four years later, Swartzentruber uses Robinson’s development as a motivational story for incoming players.

“Thankfully he stuck with it and he’s been one of my — I’ve coached varsity baseball for 27 years so I have a lot of favorites, but Nick would be right up there as far as everything he brings to the program,” Swartzentruber said.

Robinson is a two-year varsity member who served as the Indians starting right fielder and led the team with 24 stolen bases. Swartzentruber refers to Robinson as a “complementary piece” thanks to everything he brings to the table, he said.

Robinson is the Indians starting centerfielder this season, a position he grew up playing. LC’s head coach can’t name another player who works harder — like his next meal depends on it.

“We’ve had struggles at times this year scoring runs and he’s been the guy whose made our offense run,” he said. “He’s very disruptive to a team’s defense.”

Robinson went from batting in the bottom half of the order last season to leading off for the Indians this year. Because LC graduated six of their top hitters last season, Swartzentruber said players had to step up. Luckily, Robinson was up for the challenge. 

The senior currently leads the team with a .402 batting average, .505 on-base percentage, 36 steals, 32 runs, 35 hits and 23 RBIs.

“He’s really worked a lot and taken it to another level,” Swartzentruber said. “He works hard everyday. His great attitude allowed him to continue to improve.”

Robinson’s dedication to his craft helped him earn All-Duneland Athletic Conference honors along with teammates Griffin Tobias and Blake Sivak. Robinson said after he received the award, he took some time to reflect on it.

It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the best players, especially as someone who nearly wasn’t part of the program to begin with, he said.

At the end of each season, Swartzentruber selects one player who he feels showcases 110% effort at practice everyday to earn the Go Hard Award. Robinson earned the award with former teammate Josh Warn last season. For the first time in Swartzentruber’s 27-year varsity coaching career, Robinson will earn the award for the second consecutive year, alongside Brenden Smith.

With baseball players getting wrapped up in travel ball, oftentimes the art of practice is a lost art, Swartzentruber said. Robinson, on the other hand, always sets the tone for Lake Central.

“Every ball he runs it out. If he puts a ball in play he’s sprinting to first,” Swartzentruber said. “He’s easy to talk to, has a great sense of humor, is very mature and always has a smile on his face.”

As the Indians (21-9) prepare for the regional championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday against Chesterton (22-6), Robinson is soaking up every moment he has left with his teammates.

Whether LC’s season ends with a victory or defeat, Robinson has decided to wrap up his baseball career. Instead of baseball, he will focus on studying construction engineering and management technology at Purdue Northwest next schoolyear. 

“It definitely means more because any loss will be the end of my career,” Robinson said. “It’s going to sting a little bit walking away. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates and coaching staff to end my career with.”

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