By GIUSEPPE UNGARO
Donnie Stone looks for opportunity on the baseball diamond and off of it. On the field, he looks for the right pitch to pounce on, but is also content to take a free base rather than swing at a bad pitch. Off the field, time is opportunity.
The Oakcrest High School senior makes the most of his day, using up study halls and free time to hit the books, which gives him more time for the gym and batting cages.
His natural ability, intelligence and work ethic makes Stone, this edition’s Old Cape Recycling Scholar Athlete, an A-student and one of the top baseball players in the Cape-Atlantic League.
“It’s his personality. It’s just the type of person and player he is. It mirrors on the field and in the classroom,” Oakcrest baseball coach Scott Olson said. “He’s extremely hard working, he’s matter-of-fact, goes about his business. There is usually not much other than ‘what do I have to do? How am I going to do it? And how am I going to do it well?’ He is an extremely focused young man.”
Olson added: “This is the first year I have him in the classroom for pre-calculus. He is the exact same way. I wouldn’t have expected anything different. In the classroom and on the field, his level of focus is at a rate much higher than other kids his age. He has a lot of maturity.”
Stone, a standout shortstop, also played football for the Falcons, all the while excelling in the classroom. With classes like pre-calculus and anatomy, the Falcons’ star has to keep a tight schedule to stay ahead in class, play baseball, hit the gym and spend extra time in the batting cages.
However, he is savvy enough to work smart as well as hard.
“It can be tougher during the football season because it’s more strenuous on your body, but you have to make use of your time,” Stone said. “I try to make use of the school day. A lot of kids are in study hall on their phones. I try to get as much work done as I can.”
Stone is enjoying his anatomy class, which makes sense for someone who eventually wants to be a strength and conditioning coach once his playing days are over. Stone is heading to Neumann University to play baseball along with teammate Jonny Dodson.
His dream is to own his own gym and train professional athletes.
“I love the way the body works with muscles, bones and nerves working together,” Stone said.
Stone transferred into Oakcrest two years ago from St. Joseph, and has lived up to the hype on the baseball field. He leads the team in multiple offensive categories, plays strong defense — and on a team where he is one of just two seniors, he is a quiet leader.
Through 17 games, Stone led the Falcons with 27 hits, two home runs, 14 walks and a .519 batting average. He is also the team leader in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He is also second in RBIs and third in runs scored.
“My first love was baseball and it still is,” Stone said. “I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish in baseball.”
“It’s not a luck thing. It is 100 percent hard work, putting in the time in the offseason,” Olson said. “He is a cage rat. He will go after games to go get more hitting in. He was in there all offseason. The approach is what comes full circle. He has always had the ability and the talent, but the approach is so evident now. He knows what he wants to do. He hunts pitches. He sprays balls to all parts of the field instead of being a straight pull guy, like a lot of power hitters are.
“That’s really why all his success is coming through. The kid is always in the weight room. He is always in the batting cage. This is the fruit of his labor. He put the time in, and it is showing.”
Contact Giuseppe Ungaro: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDgisepu
By GIUSEPPE UNGARO