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Senior Spotlight: St. Helena baseball star Jeske finding the silver lining in small-town quarantine life
Senior Spotlight

Senior Spotlight: St. Helena baseball star Jeske finding the silver lining in small-town quarantine life

With the cancellation of the spring season for high school sports, the Napa Valley Register is recognizing senior athletes who have had their careers come to a premature end due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today we focus on St. Helena High baseball star Caleb Jeske, the reigning Napa County Baseball Player of the Year.

Jeske has been starting for the varsity Saints since his freshman year and has shown steady improvement every season. Had he continued on his trajectory this spring, he likely would have cemented himself as one of the best offensive players in school history.

Sports:

Basketball and baseball.

Years on varsity:

Two years for basketball, three years for baseball.

Fun fact:

“I never warm up in the on-deck circle because it’s bad luck.”

By the numbers:

In baseball, Jeske was named the Saints’ Most Valuable Player three times and was first-team All-North Central League I twice. As a junior, he set St. Helena’s single-season hits record while batting .487 with 23 RBIs, 2 home runs and 23 stolen bases. He also had a slugging percentage of .697 and an on-base percentage of .592.

He was named one of the boys basketball team’s MVPs as a senior.

What was your reaction to the spring season being canceled?

“It’s really disappointing to miss my senior season. It’s more than just playing my final high school season. We had a group of guys that had a real chance to have a special season.”

How has coronavirus changed your life?

“COVID-19 has really shaken things up in all facets of my life. Online classes and the absence of spring sports have really made a big difference, but honestly we are really lucky to live in a place where we have the freedom to leave the house at all and the space to do it safely. Wrapping up the recruiting process has been a nightmare because of the extra year of eligibility given to spring collegiate athletes, but we have figured all that out.”

Have you picked up any new hobbies during quarantine?

“I have started spending some of my free time swimming at the river.”

Best memory from high school sports?

‘The home run I hit against Middletown last year at home will always be a good memory. It was especially sweet because it was against our league rivals. It just felt so good.”

What do you miss most about sports?

“I miss my boys. I miss the culture and chemistry within the team that we had developed and strengthening that chemistry even more.”

Summer plans:

“Play baseball wherever I can. It’s uncertain if summer ball will even happen. If it doesn’t, it’s training and working out five days a week and taking a couple college classes to get a head start going into the fall.”

Fall plans:

“I will be attending and playing baseball for Santa Rosa Junior College, where I will get my GE’s (general education classes) done before transferring to a four-year college where I’ll continue both my scholastic and athletic careers.”

Coach Darrell Quirici says

“(As far as school records), he was staring down career hits, career stolen bases, career average, career RBIs – I mean they were all right there for the taking. I didn’t foresee him not getting any one of those, which would have cemented him in the annals of St. Helena sports history for sure. ... When I think back on it, in my 14 seasons of association with the high school, I can count on one hand the kids who had significant playing time on varsity as freshmen and I can count on one finger the number of players who started their freshman season on varsity and contributed, and that’s Caleb.

As a coach, it’s a gift when you get a kid like that.”

Contact Gus via phone at 707-304-9372 or email at gmorris@napanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustGusMorris.

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Sports Reporter

Gus Morris covers St. Helena and Calistoga sports for the Napa Valley Register. Before joining the Register in 2018, he covered collegiate sports for the student publication at the University of Oregon.

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