Society likes definitions. Even when it comes to people, society likes to define a person by putting them into categories or mark them with descriptive traits. Baseball is no different and coaches put all sorts of definable terms on players to classify their qualities or skills. One term at the top of positive attributes for baseball, as well as society, when searching for members of a team is “selflessness.” Simply put, the concern with the needs of others over one’s own.
Considering that, it is undoubtedly the best term to begin the list in defining Louis Berini, an uncommitted 2022 catcher/infielder out of Northern Durham High School (Durham, NC), as a person and a player. Many may say they are attempting to be the “best version” of themselves, but for Berini the evidence is clear he is genuine in his actions to do just that.
On the baseball field, where the 5’5” catcher is quick to point out that while he may lack the size of some of his teammates and competitors, he more than makes up for that in how he works and gives attention to details of his craft. For Berini, personal improvement is a way to enhance his service to others.
And looking for ways to elevate his game is part of what brought him to the Dirtbags in the summer of 2018 as a 13u player. Berini called the transition an “eye-opening experience” as he recognized the level of competition he faced previously was “mediocre” and it had impacted his ceiling.
Louis knew he had to get faster and stronger and match the competition he’d now be facing. And while he surely made improvements, some of his most prolific same due to playing for Ben Cassillo in 2019. Now well-aware of what was expected and the work needed to elevate his performances the biggest strides seemed to come as he began to embrace the process.
While he began lifting at 14 years old, Berini says it was in 2019 that he became really serious. And it shows as he put on twenty pounds of mass, now up to 160 pounds. The strength gains look to transition into his left-handed swing from a previous “find some holes” approach to now wanting to hit balls into the gaps and produce extra-base hits.
Which matches well with what Cassillo sees as a proven plan at the plate, saying,“You can tell he’s incredibly comfortable in the box and his willing to go deep into counts to get ‘his pitch’”
The coach can also speak to how Berini’s will to help others also be their best shows in his work behind the plate. Cassillo continues, “He’s equally comfortable working with his pitcher and building a relationship with them to the point he’s rarely shaken off.”
Coincidentally, Louis credits some of those receiving skills to the guidance given by Cassillo. Saying he lacked confidence in handling some pitches prior to 2019, Berini says he was able to get several drills and plenty of encouragement from Cassillo.
No matter if behind the plate or in the batter’s box, Cassillo recognizes the elevated results Berini has put out especially against top-notch opponents, saying, “Louis is a gamer who plays his best against top competition.”
Another area Berini says the commitment to work has really paid off is in his throwing to combat the running game. Here, he points to his work on the fundamentals of a quick exchange and being accurate. Louis repeatedly called attention to how important accuracy in throwing has improved his efficiency. It has allowed him to be a defensive asset for his team even without what one may consider plus arm strength.
Cassillo came to regularly expect the proactive Berini to access instruction on skills and the practical application of those skills. He said, “I could count on Louis to grab me after a long weekend of games and ask about specific situations.”
“He cares about the mental side of the game, and that will help him immensely as he continues his baseball career,” concluded Cassillo.
Playing with the Dirtbags seems to fit Berini, who says he feels like the group is best characterized best as “grinders.” And surely that’s who he is too.
“It feels good to be a Dirtbag, knowing one day you can reach your goals,” says Berini.
The game Berini has built towards reaching those goals is due to his work, but screams he’s doing it for others. He talks about “stealing strikes” for pitchers and nothing getting by him in the dirt like a badge of honor.
Even as he described his role playing varsity at Northern Durham as a sophomore, playing second base and catching some, the selflessness again stands out in his tone. The dude loves being a part of a team and being part of something bigger than himself.
Those attitudes and the increasing skills will make Berini a fantastic addition to a college roster when that time comes. In speaking about recruiting, he already has a list of favorites but has a keen understanding that he has plenty of time to determine where best fits will end up being found. And while the baseball piece is important, Louis knows the education part is critical.
For now, it’s experiencing the improvement process, visiting campuses, selflessly looking for ways to help his team and trying to be the best version of himself. What else could one ask for in a teammate?