Jake Levison savors success on baseball diamond

Jake Levison is a winner in the classroom, who chose the one sport — baseball — where failure is the more likely outcome.

“It is a game of failure,” said Trumbull High’s Levison, who will play baseball and major in economics at the University of Pennsylvania. “That’s is what sets it aside from other sports. I had to develop mentally to realize that with failure you have to grow and improve.”

Levison, who is batting .461 for coach Phil Pacelli’s Eagles this season, wasn’t so much a late bloomer as he was a work in progress.

“I really wanted to be on varsity as a sophomore, but didn’t make it. We won FCIACs that year and not being part of it put a chip on my shoulder.”

That phrase, chip on my shoulder, has a negative connotation. Levison turned it into a positive.

“I didn’t think it was a mistake (not making the team),” he said.

“As a freshman, and even as a sophomore, I’d get down on myself after a poor at-bat. That motivated me. I had to learn to let it go.

“Coach Pacelli is great, a very competitive guy, and I like that in a coach. He’s laid back, but will let you know (when a mistake is made). He’s not a scream-in-your-face guy, but a teacher.”

Levison is an apt student.

“Athletics are an extension of the classroom and my mom Debbie and dad Craig have taught me that every day of my life,” he said.

“They are supportive in so many ways. My dad really guided me through sports from the age of seven. My mom is my biggest fan. He’ll give me game-time advice, and every game my mom will be smiling at me. Without them, I’m not in the spot that I’m in.”

That position is helping Trumbull make it to the FCIAC finals for the third time in four seasons.

“We’ve been hitting the ball great and the pitching has been solid,” Levison said of his Eagles, who at 7-3 are tied for third in the FCIAC standings.

“I applaud the fact that we’ve been able to come back to win some games. In no situation is the game over. We have the talent, heart and defense to make a run.”

Levison credited making his college choice with freeing him up.

“UPenn is my dream school,” he said. “It’s the best academic option. I got a really great vibe and the coaches are very approachable. Going Ivy League...Once the opportunity was offered I accepted immediately.”

Before UPenn came calling, Levison had to find a way on to the THS varsity.

“After sophomore year I realized I had to get bigger, started eating right, and stayed dedicated. I’m naturally fast and (at 6-3) have a long stride, but through workouts I was able to get faster.”

After batting leadoff as a junior, Levison moved to the No. 2 spot in the batting order this season, where his ability to run, hit for contact and hit with power has helped propel the Eagles.

“It is great,” he said of his success in the batter’s box. “I like the challenge of baseball. You always have to get better. Because of the failure rate, you savor your success and that’s gratifying.”