By Will Johnson
LATEXO – As fall begins to settle in, the area sports most frequently talked about include football, volleyball and cross country. When the discussion turns to baseball, it usually centers on the major leagues and – especially at this time of the year – which teams are in the pennant race. Will the Astros make a late push (no) or is it finally the Rangers’ year (maybe)? Will Big Papi go out with a bang or will the Cubs finally break the curse?
One question that hasn’t come up until very recently is: How do you think the Latexo kids look on the diamond? Fall baseball? In Latexo? Yep!
The Latexo Junior High Tigers took on the Central Heights Junior High Blue Devils on a beautiful Thursday afternoon last week and while they lost by a score of 7-3, the Tigers showed some real promise at the plate and in the field.
The Blue Devils jumped ahead of the Tigers in the first inning by a score of 2-0 as the Central Heights pitcher was bringing some heat from the mound. The Tigers’ defense managed to keep the game close in the early innings and after a rocky first inning, the Latexo pitching was lights out.
In the fourth inning, runs were plentiful as both pitchers ran into trouble. The Blue Devils put a five spot on the board but the Tigers answered with three of their own in the bottom of the inning. The game, unfortunately for Latexo, was called at that point with the Tigers trailing by a score of 7-3.
While the game is basically the same as at the high school level, there were several differences. The first difference was the time limit agreed to by both teams. The time allotted for the game was one hour and 45 minutes. When that time limit was reached, the game was called regardless of whatever was happening in the field of play.
Another difference was the amount of runs which could be scored in an inning. Both Central Heights and Latexo agreed to no more than five runs allowed per inning.
Also, there was only one umpire present for the game. He called balls and strikes from behind the pitcher’s mound and also served as a pseudo-coach in the field for both teams as he offered tips about positioning and what a player could or could not do.
Following the game, Latexo Coaches Wade Mitchell and Fletcher Larkin discussed coaching the Latexo Junior High baseball program.
“This the second year it has been here,” Coach Mitchell said. “I think maybe the actual junior high level baseball has been around four or five years, but this is only our second year of it at Latexo.”
Coach Larkin explained the time and run limits “… were agreed upon when we set this up.”
As far as if there was a district the Tigers competed in, Coach Mitchell explained, “No. This is just a way for the kids to get some work in before they hit the high school level.”
When asked about what he saw from the team so far, Coach Larkin replied, “They look good. They have some work to do, but I think we have some potential stars. Hopefully, we can keep them in the program, keep them working and they’ll be good in high school.”
As to whether the offensive production or defense in the field needed the most improvement, Mitchell said, “I think overall, it’s just a matter of them getting bigger and stronger. They don’t look too bad, but hey, everyone has a little to work on. You always have to strive to get better.”
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.