MERRILLVILLE | Last Saturday, Jimmy Tarala was hoarse by the second inning of Andrean's first baseball sectional game.
By the third inning, his voice was nearly gone, and his teammates were giving him a hard time.
"They were all making fun of me, (my voice) is basically just coming back and I'm able to talk again," Tarala said. "We have good days and bad days just like any team, but I'm ready to cheer on my team from the bench from the field, anything I can do to help."
Tarala does what he can to be heard. He wants his teammates to know that someone out there is pulling for them, someone knows they'll do well.
Growing up in a house of six children and eight people, Tarala is frequently fighting to be heard, so a voice with some volume is nothing new.
Maybe when his team faces Griffith in today's noon regional semifinal, Tarala will bring some throat lozenges.
"Drink more water, that's what I'll need to do," Tarala said with a laugh.
A win in the morning, and Tarala will need to keep his voice for the championship of the two-round Plymouth Regional.
"You can't have a better teammate than Jimmy Tarala," Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. "It's impossible for a coach to have someone else so valuable for the team, because he's played first base and pitched and he's always cheering on his team, and you really need someone like that."
Tarala has sacrificed his position and moved around the infield as necessary during his time at Andrean. He was part of a 26-member Class of 2013 that entered four years ago, prompting Pishkur to create two freshman baseball teams.
That 26 has dwindled to eight seniors, and Tarala is one of three who will be counted on to pitch in the regional.
Tarala's pitching resume this season includes a wins in relief over Hobart, innings of relief in the tie against Downers Grove and the sectional semifinal win against Kankakee Valley, in which he pitched three innings of relief. He also hit a pair of doubles in the regular-season 4-3 victory against Griffith.
"He's one of the three (pitchers) most likely to get innings," Pishkur said. "Ideally we'll throw two, each throw a complete game, but the tournament doesn't always permit that, and you have to adjust so we'll have to see."
He's played at first base, pitcher, designated hitter, and bopped from position to position as needed without complaint.
"My job is whatever it needs to be," Tarala said. "I'm just trying to cheer on my teammates all the time. I can be out there in the bullpen and they can still hear me. If I'm not in the game, I have to keep them in the game."