Del City’s Izack Tiger – Character Counts Presented by Eskridge Honda

By John Tranchina

Izack Tiger has played baseball since he was three years old and loves the game, so even though his Del City team is enduring a somewhat difficult season, the senior shortstop and pitcher is enjoying a strong year as one of the Eagles’ difference-makers, both on the field and off.

As a senior and as one of Del City’s top players, Tiger has earned the trust of coach Ricky Hammer, who has been grooming him for years to develop into an important team leader.

“I came in my freshman year and (Coach Hammer) told me since I’m a freshman, I’m going to be the foundation of building this team up,” Tiger said. “I then began to keep encouraging myself, because you’re going to have a lot of fallbacks before you have an uprising, and when I became a sophomore, he told me again that I’m still the foundation. He pretty much wanted me to be the face of the team and I kind of just rode with it.”

This season, Tiger’s leadership off the field has been essential. The club has struggled at times, going 1-9 over a 10-game span, including five straight losses, to sport a 6-17 record heading into Apr. 19. In addition to that, there have been some tumultuous off-the-field issues that have tested Tiger’s ability to keep the group together.

“This year has probably been the most challenging year,” he admitted. “We have a lot of difficulty with the team, with members wanting to be their own character and we actually had a person kicked off the team for foul language, and I took that as, ‘Now we know we can’t keep doing this.’ I’ve said from Day One to stay positive, that’s what my mom has always taught me.”

Tiger credits his best friend, fellow Eagles infielder Kendric Bizzell, with helping him change the culture a bit in the locker room.

“He helped me do what he and I have been wanting to do with the team, push the positive and change,” said Tiger, who will be playing ball next year at Ottawa University in Kansas. “Del City has a bad rep for some reason and we’ve been trying to change that and I think, personally, it’s working, with the kids we have now and their attitudes toward baseball and their families – it’s pretty good. It is very satisfying to see kids change their minds.”

Another way that Tiger demonstrates his leadership and dedication is by continually working hard to improve his game.

“Waking up at 6 in the morning to go run, to go lift, staying after practice to get more reps, see the ball more,” he said, listing off some of the ways in which he hones his craft. “On the weekends, devoting most of my time in the cages, talking to other players and coaches to see how I can improve, what I can improve on. You’re not going to see your faults, you need someone else to see what you’re doing, and Coach Hammer has done really well at telling me what I need to work on.”