Athlete of the week: Rob Skinner took a big leap in his sophomore season

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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Sophomore Rob Skinner is just getting started with the LaGrange baseball team. He did not come into this season as a starter but worked his tail off to be the starting third baseman by the end of the season as the Grangers made another run to the AAAA state championship series.

“It’s unreal to go to back-to-back state championships in my first two years here,” Skinner said. “Doing it as a freshman and a sophomore is crazy, nothing can beat that.”

It is not just a bigger role on the diamond for Skinner, he has also taken on more responsibility in the clubhouse. Even though he is just a sophomore, he had to step up his leadership.

“We lost some veterans last year and have some younger guys playing roles on this team, so I have to help keep them up,” Skinner said. “Just being older and more mature is the main thing.”

It was a tough spot for Skinner to be in as he got no reps at third base last season. Instead, he was used sparingly in the outfield. 

“I played some outfield last year during the playoffs, and I played shortstop on occasion when Robbie Parker would come into pitch,” Skinner said. “Last year, I didn’t play any third base. It’s the position that feels most natural to me right now, but we’ll see going forward.”

Skinner bided his time in 2022 behind stalwart Colton Esposito. Skinner learned the ropes and earned the spot this season.

“I knew that a senior at third base would be graduating, and it was going to be a battle for the spot with two other players, and it feels good to have earned that spot,” Skinner said. 

It was not an immediate starting role this season for Skinner. He battled some injuries early in the season and was platooned at the position with other players. By the end of the season, he was the starting third baseman making key contributions to a team that finished runner-up in the state.

In the second round of the playoffs, Skinner hit one of his two home runs all season to power the Grangers to a victory over old region foe Shaw.

That memorable moment came right in front of the home crowd at The Branch. Playing in front of a packed crowd in Granger Park is a special occasion for Skinner regardless of whether it’s the regular season or the postseason. 

“To see people who don’t even care for baseball come out and support us is special,” Skinner said. 

Skinner played in just 22 games this season but was an important part of the lineup in every single one of those games. In just his second season as a Granger, he hit .290 with 17 RBIs while also stealing 16 bases. 

Skinner plays travel ball as well. He plays with 5 Star in the high school offseason, but there is nothing quite like suiting up in the Grangers blue and white.

“When you come to LaGrange, you are really representing the town just as much as the school,” Skinner said. “You’re representing your name, your team and your family in front of the community. It feels bigger than baseball.”