Article by: David Zink from the Press-Enterprise
6-23-2017 – Corona – Ten games into the 2017 high school baseball season, Corona senior Michael Hobbs had an epiphany — a better understanding of the persona he needed to be able to battle the best of the CIF-SS Division 1 baseball landscape.
On March 21, while sitting in the visitors’ dugout at King High in Riverside, waiting to take the mound for a Big VIII League baseball game, Hobbs decided to alter his uniform a bit.
“It was my favorite Hobbs moment this season,” said teammate Brendan Beck.
“It was our first game at King,” Beck said. “He (Hobbs) was starting and decided before the game he was going to take off his undershirt. That was his debut with the two top buttons undone, no undershirt, a greasy hair look and he dealt, and he hasn’t changed from it since.”
“Its a great look, he wears it well. And he’s got the game to back it up, too.”
An attempt to better his course after a somewhat shaky start to the Panthers’ season, Hobbs was hoping to turn things around.
And, wouldn’t you know it, the changes worked.
His teammates had a good laugh about his getup, then Hobbs took the mound where he threw a three-hit shutout against King. Hobbs struck out seven and never looked back, helping to lead the 24-10 Panthers to their first CIF-SS championship game in six years.
Hobbs took control of games, pitching, fielding and hitting to change the Panthers’ fortunes. Hobbs batted .377 with eight extra-base hits, scored 17 runs and drove in 23.
In the first round of the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, Hobbs had his signature moment, repeating a feat he’d had in his first playoff start of his junior season.
“I threw a no-hitter,” said Hobbs. “Last year I did the same in the first round. Is it a tradition? Hopefully. Hopefully next year another guy does to too.”
In the field, Hobbs played solid, but pitching was where he made his mark and why he was selected the 2017 HSGameTime All-Area Baseball Player of the Year.
Hobbs, a two-time All-Area first team selection and a 2017 All-CIF first team selection, credits his progression and success to the mentoring help of Beck and Corona baseball coach Andy Wise.
“Hobbs’ best attribute is definitely his work ethic,” said Beck, who is also a All-CIF and All-Area first team selection. “He’ll outwork anyone to get done what he needs to have done. He works in the weight room then practice. Mentally, whatever he needs to do to get ready, he’s willing to do it.”
Beck, who had played varsity at Corona his freshman season, was asked by Hobbs what he needed to do to start for the Panthers in his sophomore season.
“I told him about how it would be important to really hit it in the summer and fall to prepare for the baseball season,” said Beck, who will play baseball at Stanford next season. “And, if he did he’d be in position to contribute to the team.”
“I think my turning point (in baseball) came after my freshman year when I decided to really work out hard,” said Hobbs. “I really started to take playing catch and everything I did seriously, That’s when I knew I wanted to do this full time.”
Once he made the team, Hobbs said he started working closely with Wise to soak in all his coaches’ baseball knowledge.
“He’s been awesome,” said Hobbs. “Everything I know about making it as a pitcher, how to prepare yourself, coming down to every minute detail, he’s been instrumental in getting me prepared and ready, mentally and physically.
“Its been great to progress with Wise and him showing me the ropes. He’s an awesome person and a great coach.”
And, thanks to Wise’s tutelage, Hobbs and the rest of Corona’s seniors used the 2017 season to make their final mark on the Corona baseball program and community.
“For the guys on team that I was friends with before Corona baseball, it’s made us even closer,” said Hobbs, who is currently in Fairbanks, Alaska, playing in a collegiate wood-bat summer baseball league. “The new guys that transferred in have also become some of my best buddies. It just shows the affect of playing this game with others that want the same things you do.
“Corona baseball is not just a team, its a community.”