WHEN considering love of the game, Hauser High School junior Jared Compton is an all-star.
He’s only hitting about .270, and his team has managed just four wins this season.
His passion, though, is undeniable.
Ten days before Hauser’s season opener, Compton had surgery to remove his gallbladder, which had shut down. He played in the first game.
“It wasn’t fun,” Compton said about trying to get through the game. “I was sore, and I was tired.”
Considering that Hauser had heavy graduation losses from the previous season, it was common knowledge that the team figured to struggle this season. Losing one more player probably wasn’t going to matter.
It mattered to Compton.
It also mattered to him earlier this season when he was hit by a pitch that crushed nerves in his right hand or when he was hit by a come-backer to the mound that gave him a deep bruise on his wrist.
Compton, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound first baseman/pitcher, has played every game this season.
“He’s got all the intangibles you look for in a player,” Hauser baseball coach Jerry Schoen said. “Good character. Heart. He is a total team player.
“As a coach, you wish you had more like him.”
The other part of the game is coming around for him as well. In two games this week, Compton had five hits and five RBIs.
That’s been good news for a Hauser team that has taken its lumps.
“We’ve just been trying to stay
positive,” Compton said. “Are we improving each and every day? Losing is no fun, but we are making the best of it.
“We’re going to get back to the level we’re used to playing at. It can be hard to stay focused, but you do your best. We haven’t given up. We still believe.”
Schoen hopes Compton can become a more vocal leader in the future.
“If I can say something that will pinpoint something to another player, I can do that,” Compton said. “I don’t mind, but it’s the first time I have done it.”
Most of his playing days, Compton has been the one looking for the help.
“I was terrible as a little kid,” he said. “I would back out of the box ... I was bailing out.”
Between his sixth- and seventh-grade seasons, he played in the summer for a traveling team coached by Shawn Thayer.
“That’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball,” he said.
But he also learned to stay in the batter’s box, and his hitting improved to the point he has earned a role on his varsity high school team.
Schoen is hoping as his team starts to mature, Compton can bring the other players along with his desire and his work ethic. The team has a proud baseball history that includes a runner-up state finish in 2005 and a regional title in 2006.
At the present, the Jets look for inspiration where they can get it.
“I think our best moment this year was the doubleheader we split (12-1 loss, 12-7 win) in Cincinnati against Western Hills,” Compton said. “We showed we can play after getting our butts kicked. It showed our potential.”
But it seems likely that there will be more lumps to come before Hauser gets back to the brighter days.
Compton will be smiling, win or lose.
“What’s not to like?” he said. “I’m coming out here playing the game that I love.”