TECUMSEH — For his first three years in high school, Jayden Amaya spent his springs preparing for football and basketball.
The senior hadn’t touched a baseball since eighth grade, but he wanted to play one more season before graduating and his playing days were over.
“It’s my senior season and I just wanted to play one more,” Amaya said.
Having been away from the game for three years, he knew his job for the team would be to come off the bench as a role player.
“We had a conversation at the beginning of the season,” said head coach Tom Bullinger. “I asked him if he could handle not playing a whole lot.”
For most of the season, Amaya had been coming in off the bench and he did so in a big spot earlier in the season against Adrian.
Amaya took over for David Hunt at second base after the fellow senior was injured going for a fly ball in shallow centerfield.
In extra innings and runner on second, Hunt’s spot in the lineup came up and Amaya stepped up to the plate and delivered a walk-off single down the left field line.
“My confidence has been through the roof,” Amaya said. “I feel like I can hit the ball anywhere at anytime.”
Since the walk-off hit against the Maples, Amaya has forced his way into the lineup.
He went 2-for-2 with a double and scored a run against Dexter, had a four RBI game and a two hit game against Ypsilanti, had nine RBIs in the Jackson series with a 3-run home run and two doubles and had a double and triple against Chelsea.
“He’s stuck it to me,” Bullinger said. “He’s changed my mind to where I can’t take him out of the game. He’s our right fielder now. He’s taken advantage of the opportunities that he’s had in the middle of the season. It’s awesome to see and it’s fun when seniors do that. It’s a good thing for Jayden.”
The key to Amaya’s success is all about the confidence he’s built since the walk-off.
“At the beginning of the year he came in a lot during the offseason and got work,” Bullinger said. “At the beginning against some guys who threw harder he was off and behind. Now he’s in his groove and he hasn’t missed a beat since eighth grade. It’s good to have him.”
During the football and basketball seasons, Amaya played a similar role. He battled with Jacob Burns for the starting quarterback job and didn’t get it.
In basketball, he came off the bench sparingly as the team won the Southeastern Conference White Division title.
So it’s ironic Amaya is making arguably his biggest impact with the sport he’s devoted the least amount of time to.
Now he’s won a second SEC White title this school year, but instead of being on the team, he’s major contributor.
“It feels awesome,” Amaya said. “This is already my favorite season this year.”