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Archive for Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Hot bats come with players maturing

July 20, 2005

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A rare July cold front couldn't chill the hot bats of the players in the final Rookie Baseball matchup between Team 2 and Team 8 on July 12 at Youth Sports Inc.

Both teams scored the five-run maximum each inning they were up to bat.

Both coaches and players attribute their successful hitting to learning how to hit off live pitching instead of a tee.

Team 8 player Thomas Uhler said his personal highlight of the season was his first hit not off the tee.

Coach Billy Uhler, Thomas's father, said that as the season progressed, players were more likely to forego the tee for live pitching.

Uhler said a mid-season pitching change from himself to Craig Tolefson seemed to contribute to the turnaround too.

Thomas said he learned valuable baseball skills, such as how to use two hands when catching a ball and the importance of backing up first base when playing right field.

In addition to the improvements at the plate, Billy said his players also gotten better in the field.

"Toward the beginning of the season, they had trouble throwing the ball from the outfield to the infield," Billy said. "Then towards the end of the year, they got it together."

Competitive close plays are one thing that the players did get the hang of in the game. While many of the batters found ways to hit balls to the holes, the fielders' improved ability to make plays cut down on the abundance of extra-base hits.

However, Team 8 hitter Ben Reimer found a way to bring some of his teammates home with an inside-the-park home run.

Team 2 Grady Arachtingi answered back the next inning with an inside-the-park home run of his own.

Team 2 players Sam Fanshier and Garrett Swisher said they had a great time finding their favorite positions.

Coach Shawn Swisher helped to guide players in finding their niche by trying players out at a variety of positions. At the beginning of the season, he had his players select three positions they preferred to play.

After everyone had a chance to experience different positions, he began to place players at the positions they played strongest. Swisher said all of his players showed a 70- to 80-percent improvement.

Although players maintained focus on the field, between innings they found a way to take breaks to visit their parents in the stands.

Thomas said one of his favorite parts of playing with his teammates this year was having fun with his new friends and getting to know the players better. Not only did the players have fun, but the improvements they made throughout the season gave them something to cheer about.

Thomas and the rest of his friends on Team 8 ended the season with his dad, Billy, leading a team cheer saluting their mascot, the Poisoned Dartfrog, and the successful season.

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