East Lake’s Maronpot continues to deliver in field, at plate
EAST LAKE -
Shifting from third base to shortstop during the middle of the year wasn’t a big deal for Keegan Maronpot.
It’s not like the East Lake junior hadn’t ever played the position before, and he was staying on the left side of the infield. It’s simply what his coaching staff asked him to do, so he did.
But in conjunction with a couple other midseason roster tweaks, Maronpot’s seamless transition from corner to middle infielder has been a major catalyst propelling the Eagles to their 23-3 record and into this week’s regional playoffs.
“Defensively he’s been a huge bonus,” said East Lake Coach Dan Genna. “We switched him to give ourselves a better defensive team, and it wound up being tremendous for us.”
Maronpot, who Genna describes as perhaps the best defensive third baseman he’s ever coached, made the shift to short after the Eagles’ first loss of the season at Jesuit High.
“That was one of those losses where we looked at it and asked where do we need to get better?” Genna said. “That’s one of the things we came up with and it’s worked ever since.”
It was one of a couple shakeups the Eagles successfully implemented in the search for the perfect personnel combination.
Given the poise Maronpot plays the game with — whether it’s in the field, at the plate or on the base paths — it’s not surprising that his new role was taken completely in stride.
“I’d played short my whole life, so it wasn’t too much of a jump,” he said. “I like it. You get to take charge of the infield a little bit more.”
Having Maronpot in the middle taking command is something Genna said he’s quickly become pleased with watching from the dugout.
“He’s always in the game,” East Lake’s third-year coach said. “A-plus character, works extremely hard, always looking to improve and he’s a tremendous teammate. He’s definitely a field general out there.”
While Maronpot’s stabilizing affect on the Eagles’ infield defense has been of great importance to this year’s overall success, he’s done the same for the middle of the batting order, as well.
“He’s been batting fourth for us all year, which is crucial because we have Grant Hodges in front of him,” Genna said, referencing the Eagles’ talented, left-hitting senior swinging in the three-hole. “If teams want to stay away from him, then they have to face Keegan.”
Pitching to either option isn’t much fun for opposing staffs, and Maronpot’s been holding up on his end by producing a team-high .425 batting average, 26 RBIs and two home runs.
When asked if it’s a situation where he’s been in a season-long zone at the plate, Maronpot said the numbers are more a product of playing with confidence, believing in his ability and not trying to do too much.
“It’s tough to say that I’ve been locked in all season because there’s always going to be a couple [of] pitchers you’ve got to tip your cap to. I’m really just trying to put the ball in play and hit the ball up the middle, to be honest.”
That approach helped Maronpot and East Lake turn in one of the Eagles’ finest collective regular seasons in school history, but the real work will now begin this week.
After earning a third-consecutive district championship last Thursday by taking out Sarasota Riverview, 3-2, the Eagles begin their quest toward the title they really want Wednesday night. Class 8A District 7 runner-up Wharton High travels to East Lake for a region quarterfinal scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
To find the results, photos and recap of Wednesday’s East Lake-Wharton playoff game, be sure to go to www.SuncoastNews.com or like The Suncoast News on Facebook.