INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Pound for pound, Masxsimo Battel packs quite an athletic punch.
At a generous 5 foot 9, 150 pounds, the senior was a valuable veteran member of the Incline football and baseball teams, quietly leading by example as he contributed to wins.
For his contributions to his respective teams, he is the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza’s Male Athlete of the Year from Incline High School.
“He’s not the largest kid, he’s not the fastest kid, but he has a huge heart and passion for the game,” said Incline football coach Scott Conn. “He played multiple positions. Wherever we needed him to play, he was the first one to step up and say, ‘I’m there. I can do that for you.’”
Battel was the Highlanders’ ironman. On a small-school football team that needs most of its players on the field an entire game — offense, defense and special teams — he didn’t miss a single game between his junior and senior seasons.
“He was sturdy. He didn’t get hurt,” Conn said. “He was in there banging away with everybody who was bigger than him. But because he was the one delivering the blows, it was the other guy who was usually the one hurting a little bit.”
And as Conn said, Battel didn’t care what position he played. He simple went to work.
“We had him playing receiver, and he did an outstanding job there. We had him at defensive back, and he played that well. We had him playing outside linebacker, and he did well there too. And this past year he even became our quarterback at the end of the season, having never played the position before. And he put on a nice show against a tough team,” Conn said. “So I have nothing but admiration for him. You could count on him at all times.”
A four-year member of the Incline football team, Battel was particularly effective on defense, using his smarts and athleticism to fly around and make plays. He tallied 40 tackles in seven games his senior year between his cornerback and linebacker positions.
“He had excellent instincts to be able to understand what the play was, where the ball was going and what he needed to do to blow it up,” Conn said. “So that’s why we started playing him at linebacker, because he was able to get there sooner and faster, compared to having him at cornerback. He had the ability to read a play correctly.”
Not surprisingly, as he did in football, Battel played in all 21 games for the Incline baseball team in the spring. And just like during football season, he played bigger than he was.
“His first strength is that he has a great arm. He has as strong an arm as anybody we had on the team,” said Incline coach Jeff Clouthier. “And he really likes to throw, so you never had to push him into it. He probably wanted to throw too much sometimes. We had to back him off sometimes so he didn’t.”
Battel roamed center field for the Highlanders in addition to pitching. He also filled in at shortstop on occasion. Clouthier said his senior right-hander became more effective on the mound as the season went on, particularly with his off-speed pitches. He finished with 31 strikeouts in 33 innings.
“It was nice to have somebody like that, who just wants to keep throwing and throwing,” Clouthier said, adding that Battel’s strong arm and speed made him a solid center fielder as well.
Clouthier moved Battel up to second in the batting order after a hot start to the season. He posted a .378 batting average with six doubles, a triple and 16 RBIs, and struck out only nine times in 74 at-bats. He stole 12 bases in 13 attempts.
And while he may not have been the most vocal senior on the field, Battel led his peers by example.
“He chose to demonstrate his commitment to the team and to his players via his actions as opposed to his words,” Conn said. “But it was all about him being on the field and being reliable. People would take notice of that, and they would look up to him because of it.”