Friday, May 30, 2008

Team of The Year- American Heritage

RT Staff Note: This team was one of our favorites going in and it is our number one team going out. This team is full of superstars that you will hear later on next month as MLB holds it's annual draft. Eric Hosmer is the high profile player batting .471 with 49 runs, 41 hits, 27 RBI's, 16 for 16 in SB's and 11 HR's. He also had 5 saves and 32K's in 17 innings pitched. WOW! But it was Joey Belviso that may take home the post season honors. His .494 BA, 43 hits, 37 RBI's, 11 doubles, 15 HR's and out of this world 1.161 SLG led the team and league. They won state last week and are our unanimous choice for Team Of The Year. The following is an artcle from the Miami Herald that details their chammpionship game.


SARASOTA -- American Heritage ended the debate Tuesday night at Ed Smith Stadium about who is the nation's best high school baseball team.

Led by senior catcher Adrian Nieto, who hit two home runs, and senior first baseman Eric Hosmer, who nearly hit for a cycle, the Patriots cruised to an 8-2 victory against Fort Pierce John Carroll to claim the Class 3A state baseball championship.

American Heritage (31-2), ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America, claimed its first state title, and likely will become Broward County's first baseball team to win a mythical national championship.

''I think this is the best team in the nation,'' Hosmer said. ``There are no individuals on this team. We all work hard and pick each other up when we're down and we've accomplished the goal we set out from day one.''

American Heritage coach Todd Fitz-Gerald, who finished his seventh season with the Patriots, praised the way his team handled the pressure of being in the national spotlight the entire season.

''It's an honor if we do get voted No. 1, but these guys never talked about it during the season,'' Fitz-Gerald said. ``Our focus was kept on winning the state championship.

``I'm sure now we'll talk about the national championship.''

Hosmer, a projected top-10 selection in June's major-league baseball amateur draft, went 3 for 3, with a home run, a double and a triple in a game that started 1 hour, 45 minutes later than scheduled because of heavy rain Tuesday afternoon.

Nieto, who went 0 for 5 in Monday's semifinal victory against Pensacola Catholic, stole the show with one of the best games of his career.

Nieto, a University of South Florida signee, hit a two-run home run off Golden Rams starter Shane McCain that went more than 380 feet to left-center field. The towering shot hit the top of the wall and bounced over. It was part of a three-run third inning that gave the Patriots a 4-1 lead.

Nieto followed that with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave American Heritage an 8-2 lead.

''I picked the right game to break out I guess,'' Nieto said. ``I forgot about [Monday] completely and just focused on getting it done.''

Senior pitcher Greg Conver picked up the victory in relief of Ryan Kahn, going the final 2 2/3 innings. Conver struck out Golden Rams catcher Colton Griffin looking to end the game.

Kahn gave up a run in the first inning, when second baseman Adam Koerner hit a bloop single to center that scored McCain. But Kahn settled down and held John Carroll (24-6) to two runs and five hits.

''After that first run, I knew I couldn't get too uptight because we needed to score anyway,'' said Kahn, who will attend Johns Hopkins University. ``I knew I had to bear down and stay confident because I had the No. 1 team in the country backing me up.''

John Carroll cut Heritage's lead to 4-2 in the top of the fourth on back-to-back singles by Trae Goodwyn and Rick Teasley.

But after Austin Yager reached on one of John Carroll's five errors, Hosmer extended the lead to 5-2 with a double to center field.

Hosmer's try at the cycle ended when he reached on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the sixth that gave Heritage two runners on base with one out.

But Hosmer said he knew something good was about to happen when Nieto stepped to the plate.

''I told him I'm going to get on-base, you bring me in,'' Hosmer said. ``We've had that total team effort all season.

``That's why winning with these guys is a great feeling.''

John Carroll 100 100 0 --2 6 5 Heritage 103 103 x --8 10 1

WP: Greg Conver (7-1). LP: Shane McCain (4-2).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

DB Can Play

RT Staff Note: Many baseball critics have derided the choice of Dallas Baptist over more established teams like Oregon State. We think the selection of DB is significant because it proves that there are more options for young baseball players outside of the PAC 10, SEC, Big West and Big 12. Many young players that are discouraged that the big conferences didn't come knocking on their door, read this article. DB is a small independent D-I school that may just make some waves this year in the NCAA tourney.

By Andy Gardiner
Rice coach Wayne Graham has some advice for Texas A&M, Houston and Illinois-Chicago, who join upstart Dallas Baptist in the double-elimination regional of the NCAA baseball tournament that starts Friday in College Station, Texas.

"Be ready to play, because this is a hard-nosed team, a dangerous team," says Graham. "They have more 90 mph arms than we do, and they have veteran guys who can swing it."

Graham speaks from experience. His fifth-ranked Owls went 0-2 against DBU this season, benchmarks in a rugged Patriots schedule designed to impress the tournament selection committee.

Dallas Baptist finished 37-17, playing 36 games on the road or at neutral sites. The Patriots also had wins against 13th-ranked Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Tech. They beat Oral Roberts and Louisiana-Monroe, the top teams in the Summit League and Sun Belt Conference. They also are No. 29 in the NCAA power rankings and seeded second in the four-team regional.

DBU is the first full independent to make the NCAA field since Cal State-Northridge in 1992. Miami (Fla.) made it as a baseball independent while other sports played in the Big East before the school joined the ACC as a full member. The Patriots open NCAA play Friday against Houston (39-22).

"For us to make a regional as an independent we knew we would have to play an aggressive schedule," says first-year coach Dan Heefner. "Playing top-25 teams day in, day out, mostly on the road — we didn't know how that would pan out. But for the most part we got it done."

Dallas Baptist competed in NAIA from 1982-2002, making 10 appearances in the NAIA World Series and twice finishing national runner-up. After one season in NCAA Division II the Patriots became a provisional Division I member in 2004 and received full status in 2006.

Heefner became head coach this season after three years as an assistant.
"Coming in I really liked our club," he says. "It was probably the most balanced team in terms of offense and pitching in my time here, and we had a chance to be really good defensively. I thought we could do some great things."

All nine Patriots starters are native Texans, and the majority of the team comes from the greater Dallas area.

"If you have to be an independent, this is probably the best place to be because of the number of talented high school players and really good college programs all around you," Heefner says.

Outfielder Nick Santos and closer Tyson Bagley are seniors who transferred from junior colleges, but most of the Patriots were recruited from the high school ranks.
"We're not going to get the blue-chip All-American, so we have to develop players over the course of four years," Heefner says. "We do a lot of teaching and put a lot of emphasis on the fundamentals."

Evan Bigley personifies the type of player at the heart of DBU's success. A Dallas native, Bigley hit .293 as a freshman, .329 as a sophomore and .340 this season with 13 homers and a team-high 58 runs batted in.

"I think we're a really disciplined team that is always looking to improve," Bigley says. "We practice hard and we play hard."

The wins against Rice brought Dallas Baptist national validation. The Patriots won a neutral-site meeting in March on catcher Andrew Pirtle's walk-off home run in the 12th in a game in which they once trailed 5-1. They won again a month later, 3-2, at Rice.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Play Hard, Get In Shape, And Be Ready To Compete

We have been receiving e-mails from high school seniors and their parents that have signed to play in college next year about what they should do this summer. Although we have touched upon this subject before, the best thing is to ask your future college coach.

That said, just be aware that the incoming college sophomores and juniors on those same college teams that your son will be competing for are all playing in summer leagues for the next few months. They won't be resting one bit. They certainly DO NOT want to lose a position in the line-up to the new incoming freshmen. Our suggestion is to approach this summer season with the intent to get in better shape, and work on your weaknesses. No matter how good you did this past high school season, college ball is a huge step up. You need to hook up with a team that plays a competitive schedule against top teams in the area. Travel ball teams are harder to find at the 19 and under level, but there are many Connie Mack teams that are comprised of JC players and small college freshman teams that could prove to be beneficial for many graduated seniors.

If many of you older parents remember the movie American Graffiti, it's all about the summer after graduation and the fun that ensues. Well, we are not asking seniors to give that up. It is an emotional thing to see an era like high school come to an end. Many of your sons will want to spend a lot of time with their good friends and girl friends as much as possible before they all move on to the next stages of their lives. If they are like me and some of my friends, many of them will hardly ever see each other again until a reunion or a trip home on holidays.

However, it is not wise to turn the baseball spiggot off either. This is a time to realize that all of you are legally adults. And it's time to take on the responibilities of adults. One thing to realize is that your future college coach made a huge investment in each of you. Depending on the cost of the school, that first year investment could approach $10,000 or more. To a baseball program, that is a lot of money and they want to make sure that they invested properly. And many of you parents invested a lot of money in travel ball, showcases, camps and tournaments, and with even more at stake than ever before, it would be a shame to get complacent now.

Time management this summer is really the key to your sons future success. He can have it all this summer if he has a plan. And, that plan is NOT sleeping in till noon and staying out till 2AM everynight. His plan should be an extensive strength and conditioning program this summer with a licensed trainer. He doesn't have to go to this trainer every day. Just get a work out plan from him once or twice and do his work-outs every day with a friend or...if dad or mom is in shape or wants to be, what a way to bond with your son before he leaves for school.

When his collegiate life begins this fall, the time management exercise he experienced this summer will have paid dividends, because he will be overwhelmed with activities once school starts. Most student athletes, if not all, have early morning work-outs, a full class schedule of 16 units, more work-out time or BP, dinner and mandatory study hall. That schedule takes them to about 10:30 or 11:00pm before they have to start that routine all over again the very next day. The fall school schedule will especially be rough because they will have to max out their units. In the spring, during the season, they can only take 12 units, due to the extensive and compacted schedule of 5 games a week. Either way, it will be taxing on the student athlete and practicing that schedule on a smaller scale this summer will at least lessen the learning curve they will most likely experience.

RT Staff

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ShowCase Realistic Outcomes - Rewind

RT Staff Note: As the showcase season starts in a few weeks, we thought we would re-visit an article we wrote last fall.

We have been receiving e-mails about what we think is a realistic outcome of all of the camps, showcases and travel ball we tout on this site with ball players. Well, there is no magic formula. But, if you want to know what the outcome will be…then just be realistic.

For instance, some think that the camps and showcase organizations are in it for the money and not the kid, because many parents disagreed with the assessment of their son’s performance and the lack of attention he received from college coaches after the showcases circuit was completed. If there is one tidbit of advice that we would like to share with everyone that has experienced similar feelings, that advice comes from a quote by Norman Vincent Peale:

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

In other words, listen to what your coaches, instructors and showcase scouts tell you. Be realistic and react accordingly to the assessments that the evaluators share with you and your son. There’s no need to be defensive or mad if the evaluation differs from your own assessment of your son. …just be grateful that you know and understand where your child stands in the grand scheme of the baseball world order. Many of the top Showcase and Player evaluation organizations know exactly what colleges and pro scouts want. They are going to be honest… brutally honest in some cases. The bottom line…Your son isn’t a part of those 5 year old recreational soccer teams that gives out a trophy to everyone in the league anymore. He’s in the real world now, on his way to being a man.

If your son received a poor report card at school, do you criticize the school, or would you have a plan in place for your son to develop better study habits and seek out tutoring if necessary? Of course, most of us would enforce the latter because school grades are with him for the rest of his life and will dictate his future. Likewise, if your son received a less than stellar player evaluation, you should also develop a plan that will help him improve those weaknesses. If it’s one thing a recruiter or scout loves to see, is that player that falls into the category of most improved. It’s those players that have the attitude, desire and heart that teams fight over. Players that defy their perceived abilities have gone on to become fan and clubhouse favorites. Look at David Eckstein or Dustin Pedroia. In fact, pick up the book Have Heart”, by David Eckstein and you will understand what we are trying to convey here.

For some players, it works out and for others it doesn’t, but at least for those who may not make it, they should hold their head up high and be proud that they at least tried their best against the best. For those that have a better shot, listen and learn from your experiences. Work hard…and if it is your son’s dream to play baseball at the next level, then help him understand that like school, baseball has homework too and that by hard work and determination their dreams could be a realistic outcome.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Enjoy your Memorial Day

We will conclude our Top Twenty Final Poll next Monday after all of the state championships and sectionals are completed. In the meantime, enjoy and article from Michael Fisk.
RT Staff

You know you've raised your children right when they think the National Anthem ends, "...and the home of the brave. PLAY BALL!" Baseball is the game, not the business. In modern Major League Baseball the game still exists, though sometimes you have to dig past the salary disputes and drug scandals. You have to look past the home runs, too, though they are an exciting part of the game. They are just a part.

More exciting is the triple. Eric Young lines a smash down into the left-field corner that skips past the fielder. As the elusive spheroid caroms about the outfield, EY kicks it into high gear. His Rockies (or Cubs, or Giants) cap flies off and holds his place at second in case he doesn't make it to third. And here comes the it in time? There's something about that cap flying off. Did Willie Mays ever make a catch or take an extra base with his cap on?

How about a rifle throw from deep right field to nail an overbold runner? Think Larry Walker, or remember the immortal Roberto Clemente.

The squeeze play. Remember the squeeze play? And after the play, squeeze play or any of the others, there is time in between. The shortsighted ones say this is what is boring. But this is the time for the fans to discuss and commiserate amongst each other. Was that a good play? Is the umpire an idiot or a saint (no in-betweens!)? What should everyone have done instead of what they did? Did you hear about the play just like it in the 1948 Series?

Look to the past, to the Great Ones, the Baseball Gods. Forget about the salary cap for a minute. Mickey Mantle. Hank Aaron. Ted Williams. Ty Cobb. Pete Browning. And of course the baseball equivalent of Zeus (or maybe Bacchus), Babe Ruth. The names conjure up a whole series of memories, of life on the diamond and off, for better or worse. But what they have in common is a love of the game. The challenge for today's players is to make the love of the game more dominant than the love of the paycheck.

In fact, they MUST do so, and the focus MUST turn back to the game itself. The beauty of the game is in the playing. The only way baseball will survive is to remember that.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


RT Staff Note: Not everyone can be ranked in the plethora of polls that are published on every web site, but teams can still be recognized nationally. For those of you that have't seen Max Preps compilation of state champs, here's a sampling of what they have posted thus far. We have updated it to inlcude some games from Monday and Tuesday. Congratulations to the other states that will be concluding their championships this week and next.

6A – Hoover (29-19) def. Opelika (42-4) 3-4, 12-4, 7-6
5A – Cullman (36-14) def. Charles Henderson (35-13) 13-10, 4-3
4A – Jackson (34-6) def. Haleyville (22-16) 8-6, 9-8
3A – Hokes Bluff (26-5) def. LAMP (25-17) 4-2, 9-4
2A – Leroy (36-6) def. Mars Hill Bible (30-24) 6-7, 17-7, 16-4
1A – Athens Bible (29-5) def. Providence Christian (19-16) 13-8, 11-7

Class 5A Div. 1 – Hamilton (24-8) 6, Mesquite (19-15) 5
Class 5A Div. 2 – Horizon 2, Sunrise Mountain 1
Class 4A Div. 1 – Chaparral (26-6) 8, Sandra Day O’Connor (25-6-1) 6
Class 4A Div. 2 – Mingus (21-11) 4, Notre Dame (29-4) 1
Class 3A – Safford (19-11) 10, Chino Valley 0
Class 2A – Bisbee (27-4) 9, Bourgade Catholic (22-10) 8
Class 1A – Valley Union (22-6) 9, Gila Bend(23-4-1) 1

7A – Fayetteville (30-3) 7, Har-Ber 2
6A – Sylvan Hills (29-6) 5, Watson Chapel (23-4) 4
5A – Harrison (29-5) 7, Malvern (21-7) 3
4A – Valley View (32-2) 5, Rivercrest (28-4) 4
3A – Harding Academy (29-3) 8, Marmaduke (16-10) 4
2A – Woodlawn (33-5) 15, Dierks (24-7) 5
1A – Taylor 12 (26-3), Trinity Christian (21-7) 2

5A – Rocky Mountain (23-4) def. Air Academy (24-3) 3-8, 13-7
4A – Ralston Valley def. Thomas Jefferson 10-0, 8-4
3A – Eaton 4 (22-3), Lamar (18-7) 1
2A – Custer County (17-6) 16, Jefferson Academy (11-12) 7
1A – Eads (20-1) 9, Granada (16-4) 8

Div. 1 – Punahou (29-9-2) 4, Saint Louis (28-8) 0
Div. 2 – Kauai (19-3) 1, St. Anthony (18-5) 0

5A – Boise (28-2) 6, Lake City 4
4A – Bishop Kelly (25-5) 6, Skyview (18-11) 3
3A – Fruitland 6, Bear Lake 1
2A – Orofino 2, Nampa Christian 1
1A – Genesee 8, Kendrick 0

5A – Barbe (35-7) 7, Jesuit (26-11) 5
4A – Zachary (27-14) 7, Shaw (26-14-1) 0
3A – Parkview (34-5) 12, St. Charles (25-10-2) 3
2A – Calvary (24-9) 12, Evangel 2
1A – Oachita Christian (31-7) 5, Northlake Christian (22-7) 4
B – Runnels (24-6-2) 12, Zwolle (27-3) 2
C – Claiborne Christian (16-14) 5, Elizabeth (12-7) 2

5A – Tupelo (32-6) 5, Ocean Springs (27-9) 4; Ocean Springs 5, Tupelo 4; Game 3 - Ocean Spring 5, Tupleo 4...Tupelo State Champs
4A – East Central (30-9) 16, Vicksburg (28-9) 6
3A – Sumrall (31-6) 8, Mooreville (29-8) 3,
2A – Richton 4, Hamilton 2, Story, Game 2 Hamilton 1 Richton 0 Game 3...
1A – East Webster (24-10) 8, Ingomar (27-9) 6

A – Grand Island (20-14) 7, Millard West (31-8) 6
B – Elkhorn (21-10) 15, Omaha Skutt Catholic (16-13) 2

4A – Bishop Gorman (41-3) 8, Green Valley (34-7) 3
3A – Virgin Valley (29-12) 7, Spring Creek 1
2A – Needles 8, Silver Stage 3
1A – Calvery Chapel 14, Pahranagat Valley 4

New Mexico
2A – Loving (17-8) 3, Eunice 1
A – Gateway Christian (18-5) 9, Mesilla Valley (14-5-1) 0

6A – Owasso (34-3) 5, Moore (28-17) 2
5A – Bixby (28-9) 4, Chickasha (38-5) 1
4A – Bishop McGuinness (29-12) 4, Tuttle (33-7) 1
3A – Sperry (35-3) 15, Beggs (29-11) 2
2A – Silo (32-3) 13, Oktaha (30-2) 2
1A – Fort Cobb Broxton 3, Sterling 1
1B – Red Oak 15, Roff 5

South Carolina
4A – Boiling Springs def. Conway (28-4) 4-3, 5-1
3A – Brookland-Cayce (29-2) def. AC Flora(22-10) 7-6, 3-1
2A – Gilbert (26-5) def. Dillon (22-9) 4-1, 1-5, 6-2
1A – Chesterfield, Bamberg-Ehrhardt, Series tied 1-1.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More From The Fans

By Emma Stewart

Baseball is not just a game. I do not consider myself to be, simply, a fan. I call myself a "baseball connoisseur." A connoisseur is defined as "a person with expert understanding of artistic and similar subjects." Baseball is art to me. Art that takes my breath away.

I watch as the infield plays pepper with balls hit toward them. They know where their teammates are without having to look. Tossing the ball to second base. Out. Then a quick, accurate throw to first. Out again. It is choreographed much like a ballet.

The pitcher takes the mound. He may not be the fastest or strongest pitcher ever to play, but very accurate. Low and away and still in the strike zone. The next one is just a little higher. Strike two. He has a pitch to waste, but he doesn't. High and inside. Still in the strike zone. Strike three; the batter goes down looking. Painting the corners like van Gogh.

The center fielder is in left center. He plays more shallow than most in the Major League. The ball is hit, it goes back, back, back, over his head and out of his reach. He back pedals, as usual. Makes a running jump at the wall. He has stolen another home run from some unlucky hitter. That, too, is art. Not graceful like the pepper ballet in the infield, but art just the same to someone who loves good baseball.

Comedy is a form of art as well. The boys in the dug out are a riot. The trainer is rocking back and forth, keeping the beat that is only heard in his head. Gum is sticking to the brims of baseball caps. The manager just smiles as the last batter relives his last at bat. The third baseman tells the short stop a joke and they both laugh.

The best part of watching the team is how they come together and play like little leaguers. Not putting down their abilities in the least. They play like little leaguers because of their love and passion for the game. They seem to always have a good time. The boys put their whole hearts into baseball. They haven't lost the original awe they felt the first time they took the field. The smell of the grass. The sound of the flags flapping in the breeze. The roar of the crowd as they do the wave. These are grown men, earning a living, doing something they use to do for free; playing a game with all the zeal and heart they had as children. And, loving every moment of it. That, too, is art; loving what you do and doing what you love.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Travel Ball Season Is Here

Now that freshman and JV ball has ended, many top underclassmen players have already started playing in many local tournaments last weekend in preparation of some huge Memorial Day Bonanzas that are happening from coast to coast. This is the time for all of you sophomores and juniors to really step it up and play hard and with passion. Many of you had practice the day after your JV or varsity season ended, others are probably having your first tournament this weekend. Memorial Day is early this year, so the season will essentially be a week longer this year and allow many of you the opportunity to take a week or two off to explore college camps and Perfect Game Showcases. Hopefully, many of you will have the opportunity to play in a Junior Olympic Tournament or the grandaddy of them all, the WWBA in East Cobb, GA.

But the main thing is to play, learn and work on your game. the time they are in high school, it's not so much about winning as it is developing and getting your players seen. Below is a timline we ran in one of our first posts for players that are finishing their sophomore and junior years.


May-June· We hope you enjoyed your high school baseball season. Whether or not you were on varsity or JV, we do hope you played hard and smart. If you thought you were good enough to be on varsity, don’t worry, many high school coaches favor their upperclassmen. If you are good, you will get your shot next year. Be thankful that you got to play everyday on JV.

· Summer travel ball is more important than ever…There are never too many games in travel ball. The more reps against the best, the better you will get.

June-August· Attend an Area Code Camp in your region or state – Log onto Area Codes web site…(Listed in the right green column).

· Scour the web sites to the right about the many showcases offered in your area. The summer after your sophomore year is when college scouts get serious. Start sending your profile sheets and letters with more frequency before every showcase and camp or tournament you attend and personalize the letters to each coach.

· If there is a Perfect Game or another high profile showcase in your area attend it. They will prove invaluable to your reputation as a player. If they don’t have a showcase, there are many more. Look to the right for the showcases in your area.

· If you get more letters back, respond to every one, no matter if they are not in your top 10. Leave all doors wide open.


· Register for the NCAA Clearinghouse. The link is to the right.

· Step up your work-outs from the previous years work-outs. You are starting to mature and you are able to take more on physically.

· Double check if you are NCAA eligible with your counselor.


May-June· Send out your high school schedule to all of your college contacts. Find out what local paper covers your team frequently and send a link to each scout/recruiter/coach so that they can follow you. If your high school web site is up to date on the daily box scores and news, send them that link as well.

· Go visit the schools of your choice when you have time. Many have "Junior Days" during the spring, usually on Sundays. GO TO THEM!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!! These are all “unofficial visits” and the bill will be on you.

· Plan your summer schedule!!! This is when the rubber hits the road…Attend all the important showcases. Go to the WWBA in Atlanta. Work to get invited to the Area Code try-outs and a USA Baseball try-out as an example. Have a plan in place and work towards getting as many phone calls as possible on July 1…the day when you can be officially contacted.

Summer· June and July are the primary showcase and camp months. If you followed the timeline, you will have gotten invitations to the camps of the schools of your choice, and to the invitation-only showcases. Continue sending out your letters and tell them of your successful Junior year on varsity. If you received any local awards such as first team in league or metro honors, tell them that up front!

· This is by far the most important time of a player’s baseball life. For instance, many of the better players will have received offers by the middle of the summer.


· The NCAA allows phone contact after July 1 of your Junior year.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Final Weeks of The Top Twenty

1. American Heritage - Florida – 29-2 (1)
On Tuesday, the Pats play for a state title against Pensacola Catholic. They have had plenty of rest and hopefully the 10 days off won’t ruin their mighty mo of 12 straight wins. Good Luck American Heritage.

2. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 23-0 (2)
Don Bosco Prep began their County Playoff Bracket on Saturday, beating Rutherford H.S. 6-1. Mike Dennhardt (7-0) (Boston College) throwing a complete game with 10 strike-outs and 1 walk. HR by Bryan Struk. Shortstop Anthony Gomez doubled, singled and knocked in 2 runs. Don Bosco continues this week with 3 regular season games to finish the season, while County and State Playoffs begin. Lets hope the weather cooperates, they have a very busy week! Don Bosco Prep is now 23-0.

3. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 41-3 (3)
There's something about Bishop Gorman's baseball team and late-inning rallies in the state tournament. The Gaels scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth Saturday at UNR's Peccole Park to break a 3-all tie and beat Green Valley 8-3 to capture their third consecutive Class 4A state title. Stephen Manthei started the sixth-inning rally by lining a single to left field, and Corey Laffler then singled through the right side to chase Green Valley starter Joe Robinson, who had turned in a solid performance despite having thrown 72 pitches Thursday. After Joey Rickard popped out, Johnny Field lined a single to right to score pinch runner Matt Hall to break the tie. The Gaels added an RBI triple by Jeff Malm, an RBI double by Paul Sewald and an RBI single by John Rickard. Another run scored on an error. Congrats on a three-peat Bishop Gorman.

4. Plano West –Texas- 34-0 (4)
The Wolves take two from Rockwall in the regional quarter final 3-2 and 6-4. At 34-0, they are making quite a historical run.

5. Los Alamitos-California - 25-3 (5)
The Griffins continue their hot streak of 12 straight wins and eek out a tough one against Long Beach Poly. Next up is Canyon of Anaheim.

6. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 22-5 California (6)
The Celts of Crespi continue their streak with 9 straight wins. They shut-out Gahr 8-0 and move on to the next round of the Play-offs against La Serna.

7. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 36-3 (7)
State Champs AGAIN!!! Oklahoma’s top-ranked Rams (34-3) overcame four errors to capture the school's 10th overall baseball championship and seventh since the start of Class 6A in 1996 with a 5-2 victory over Moore (28-17) in front of 1,853 fans Tuesday at L. Dale Mitchell Park. Congratulations Owasso!

8. Alvin HS - Texas – 31-4 (8)
Houston 5A Baseball web site reports…The Alvin Yellow-Jackets found themselves in a Region Quarter-Final series against a very familiar foe in the Brazoswood Buccaneers. Both teams reside in district 24-5A and had already met twice in the regular season with Alvin claiming both games in late inning rallies. But that is ancient history and this is the play-offs where the records are 0-0 at the start. In game 1, the Bucs powered past Alvin with home runs by the Buc's Joey Bacica, and Andrew Garner. Anthony McIntyre picked up the win for the Bucs while Tyler Green picked up the two inning save. In game 2, The Yellow-Jackets picked up the 3-2 victory with a walk-off home run by Michael Guerra. Game three was another one run affair but Alvin lead 4-1 most of the way and Josh Land squashed a seventh inning rally where the Bucs were only able to pull within one dropping the contest 4-3, and the series 2 games to 1. Alvin will now face the Bellaire Cardinals in the Region Semi-Final.

9. Brookwood - Georgia – 28-3 (9)
The Broncos take two of three from Norcross and advance to the Semi-finals.

10. Pensacola Catholic Florida 28-2 (NR)
The Crusaders cruise to a huge Top 10 Showdown vs. American Heritage today. The winner advances to the title game on Tuesday. Back to back games like this favor deep pitching staffs and Steven Groves and Wes Mugarian are the stalwarts on the mound and are pumped to give it their best effort.

11. Reagan HS – Texas – 33-1 (11)
A 24 game win streak is on the line this week after the Rattlers rattle Stevens of San Antonio 6-2 and 3-2 to advance.

12. Dunedin High School – Florida – 26-5 (12)
STATE CHAMPS! Dunedin's run to the Class 5A state title, the first baseball championship at the school in 44 years, was filled with exhilarating moments. In the seventh inning of the state championship game, nearly every Falcon fan had their fingers clenched at the edge of their seat. The score was tied at 2, and Stuart South Fork had the bases loaded with no outs. Nevertheless, Dunedin managed to escape. Alex Norris pitched to one batter for the first out. Jake Rogers came in to get the final two outs. The Falcons scored the winning run when Max Kreuter singled in Max Priest in the top of the 10th inning.

13. Farragut -Tenn.-39-3 (13)
Farragut freshman left-hander Phillip Pfiefer was improving to 11-1 while striking out 10 and allowing just two soft singles in the four inning he worked, before giving way to UT signee Matt Ramsey, who worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning against Sullivan South. The Admirals begin play Tuesday in the Class AAA state tournament in Murfreesboro.

14. South Caldwell – North Carolina 20-1 (15)
The 2007 State 4A state champs look to repeat as the Spartans top Mt. Tabor. They advance to the sectional play-offs against Providence.

15. Barbe - Louisiana – 35-7 (16)
Ryan Doiron won his second game in two days and drove in the winning run in Barbe's 7-5 victory over Jesuit in the Class 5A championship game, giving the Bucs their fifth baseball state championship. Barbe also won titles in 1998, 2000, '01 and '06. The Bucs (35-7) rallied twice to overcome Jesuit leads, scoring four runs in the second inning after falling behind 3-0 then scoring the final three runs of the game in the fifth inning after Jesuit went ahead 5-4. Congratulations Barbe!

16. Aptos HS - California – 26-4 (17)
The Mariners win handily in their first two rounds of their sectional play-offs. The latest victory was an easy 10-0 win against Santa Clara. Next up is Los Altos on Thursday.

17. Calallen – Texas- 34-1 (19)
The Wildcats crush Robstown twice and advance to the semi’s.

18. Richland - Washington 21-1 (NR)
Central Valley and Redmond were no match for the Bombers as they advance.

19. Poway - California 26-5 (NR)
The Titans re-enter our poll after a long absence after extinguishing Torrey Pines in the Sectionals..

20. Rowlett Texas 30-1-2 (NR)
The Eagles take a best of three series against Allen and not only advance, but crack our top twenty.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Passion of the Fans

RT Staff Note: Over the past three weeks we have been talking about attitude of players and parents when it comes to baseball. But, what about the fan? It’s the passion of the fan that has kept this game going for so many generations. If players could have a fraction of the passion that many fans I know have, then the game would be even more perfect than it already is. Here’s a article we found from William Baker.

America's pastime, such a fitting description. For most fans it encompasses the majority of their year. It starts in April and doesn't end until October. For me and a lot of people it becomes the soundtrack of the summer. Whenever I'm grilling out or cleaning up the vehicle or just doing anything outside, it will be the sound ringing in the background.

I know a lot of people around the world cannot figure out why baseball means so much to Americans. I can't say for sure what it is for everyone else, I can only speak for myself. Yes the games are long and the seasons even longer. The game drags for a lot of the time you are watching it. But then out of nowhere it gets exciting. A player walks, then another one singles up the middle. Now there are two guys on and your favorite player, who can change the game with one swing of the bat, coming to the plate. Now in the middle of a team driven game, there becomes a one on one battle of mind and skill. The pitcher is backed into a corner. He can't put the guy on, he would load the bases. But he also can't give in because as I said this guy can change the game with one swing of the bat. Then there is the batter, standing alone at the plate trying to guess where the pitches are going to be. Is the pitcher going to surprise him and lay them over the plate. Or is he going to try and paint the corners and get him to chase bad pitches.

Depending on which team you are rooting for, the glorious outcome can come in a different fashions. The pitcher could strike him out, he could cause him to hit into a double play, or he could hit a meaningless fly ball out. Now if your for the batter you hope for other outcomes. Your biggest hope is for the player to hit a massive homerun that towers out of the stadium, putting a devastating blow to the game and the pitchers mindset. Or at the very least hit a long fly ball that gets a run home.

Now to a lot of you this may sound very shallow and unimportant. But to those that grew up listening and watching the game it is very important for many different reasons. For me baseball is summer. I see it live, watch it on TV or listen to it on the radio. They are all appealing in different ways. But the root of all them to me is the bond they have given me with my father. One of my earliest memories in life is going to a Cardinals game with my dad. I was five and he took me along with my grandfather. I remember walking through the tunnel going from darkness to light. Then seeing this huge stadium with people of all walks of life filling the seats. I spent the game setting between my dad and my grandpa and then my dad leaning over to point out to me who Lou Brock was. I don't remember a whole lot about the game or the day other than those moments, what I do remember is I didn't want to be anywhere else.

Baseball is part of America and it's society. Probably more so than any other sport. It may have lost some of it's thunder over the last decade or so with all the allegations of drug use and the increasing popularity of football. As I said though it is the sport that brought an everlasting bond between me and my father. Not that we don't have others but this is the one that held through during anything. To borrow a line from a movie, when me and my father could talk about nothing else we could always talk about baseball. Because of the longevity that players in this game experience, many of my dad's favorite players were still playing as I got interested in the game. Because they were his favorites they became mine. And as I picked some of the newer players as my favorites they in turn became some of my dad's. So let me close by saying this, baseball wasn't and still isn't some meaningless game that tied up the airwaves. It was and always will be a way to connect to my father. It's a way to bring back memories of times long forgotten. But most importantly it's a strong common bond that bridges the gaps of different generations.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stay Away from the Dark Side of Attitude

We talk a lot about how having a great attitude about the game of baseball will go a long way to helping a player achieve their goals, impressing coaches and help making them a better person in life.

But, there is a different side of attitude that can have the opposite affect on a player, team and his relationship with his coach. Any player that thinks he is better than the coaches treatment of him has a bad attitude. A good coach will get in the face of any player that doesn’t live up to the expectations expected of that player during any given situation. Many coaches don’t care if a player is 3 for 4 in a game. If that player chases a bad pitch, misses a sign or makes a bonehead base running mistake, he WILL get reprimanded. And that player, if he is a great team mate and team player will take that criticism as a man and accept his coaches words as constructive criticism.

We received an e-mail from a young player down in the Southeast about the way his friend reacted to a coach after he struck out on a bad pitch in a close game. This player had already gotten a few hits in the game and when he struck out, the coach yelled at him for chasing a bad pitch above the strike zone. The player talked back and told the coach to cool down and told him that he "already had his two hits and that it was OK to strike out"…..HMMMMM. Let’s just say, that young player should be thankful that any of us here at Rounding Third weren’t coaching. That’s not tolerated in our neck of the woods. The coach ended up benching the young lad for the rest of the game. He got off easy.

Except in this case, the players stood up for the coach and told the player that he got what he deserved. Any player that scoffs or talks back to his coach has a bad attitude. A player that puts his self interests ahead of his team is not a team mate. A good, competitive coach only cares about your stats when he makes up the line-up. During a game, it’s just like another try-out. Each at bat is a whole different set of rules and circumstances…especially during close games. We don’t care if a player is 5 for 5 with 3 home runs that game, if a coach yells at a player for swinging at a bad third strike in a very close game, that player needs to nod at the coach and say, ”You are right coach, I’m sorry…I won’t do it again”.

It’s still a team sport and the coach will always know more about the game than his players. A player may not like the treatment, but the real world will treat them about a hundred times worse. So, suck it up guys and learn from your mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baseball Enriched by 1973 Draft Class

RT Staff Note: As one of our correspondents son graduates HS school this year awaiting the draft, but more than likely off to honor his commitment to a major D-I, it made us think back to the year we graduated. For me, it was 1973 and the baseball writing Gods had my back today, because as I was just about to look up the players that were significant in 1973, there pops up an article from MLB and Jack O'Connell. Jack is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The 1973 First-Year Player Draft was distinguished by having three of the first four players go directly to the Major Leagues without any time in the Minors. In the case of two of those players, Robin Yount and Dave Winfield, they began a journey that eventually took them to the Hall of Fame. In the case of the top overall pick, David Clyde, the fast track proved a grave mistake.

Clyde, a left-handed pitcher from Houston, became the prime example of a player moving up too fast. The Rangers were in their second year in Texas after the Washington Senators franchise moved to Arlington after the 1971 season, and the selection of an 18-year-old Texan in the amateur Draft put dollar signs in the eyes of owner Bob Short, whose decision it was to place Clyde on the Major League roster.

Short saw in Clyde not only a talented pitcher of unlimited potential, but also a box-office draw. Clyde was 18-0 as a senior at Westchester High School, where he allowed only three earned runs in 148 innings (0.18 ERA) and pitched five no-hitters, two of them perfect games. He received a $125,000 signing bonus and began earning it immediately.

The original plan was for Clyde to make two starts for the Rangers and then be farmed out. Clyde's debut on June 27, 1973 attracted a crowd of 35,698 to Arlington Stadium. He lasted five innings and was credited with the victory as the Rangers beat the Twins, 4-3.

Clyde won his second start as well, pitching seven solid innings in a 5-4 victory over the Tigers. That convinced Short to keep Clyde with the Rangers for the remainder of the season. It worked well at the gate, as Texas, which finished last in the American League West that year with a 57-105 mark, drew more than 20,000 people to each of Clyde's starts, but at year's end his record was 4-8 with a 5.01 ERA.

After posting a 3-9 record in 1974, and losing his first start in 1975, Clyde finally wound up in the Minor Leagues. Traded to the Indians in 1978, Clyde was 11-15 in two combined seasons in Cleveland and was finished at age 26 with a career record of 18-33 with a 4.63 ERA.

Yount was also only 18 when he opened the 1974 season as the shortstop for the Brewers, who had taken him as the third overall pick in the '73 Draft. Like Texas, Milwaukee was a struggling franchise at the time, but there was no pressure placed on Yount to draw fans as there was on Clyde. The Brewers wanted Yount to concentrate on defense and let the offense gradually come. It did, some 3,142 hits worth by the time he retired in 1993 with two American League Most Valuable Player Awards in tow and a ticket to Cooperstown, N.Y., ready to be punched.

Winfield, who had also been drafted by the National Basketball Association's Atlanta Hawks, the American Basketball Association's Utah Stars and the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings (even though he did not play football in college), was taken by the Padres as the fourth overall pick and joined the San Diego outfield later that month. A pitcher and an outfielder at the University of Minnesota, Winfield, a St. Paul native, was the Most Valuable Player of the College World Series.

He also was a strong rebounding forward of the Gophers' basketball team that won its first Big 10 championship in 53 years.

"There was never any doubt in my mind which sport I was going to play professionally," Winfield said. "I chose baseball, because to me baseball is the best game of all."

The Phillies had the second overall pick in '73 and used it to select John Stearns, who was a baseball outfielder and a football defensive back at the University of Colorado. Stearns played in one game for Philadelphia in 1974 and was part of an offseason trade to the Mets that sent Tug McGraw to the Phillies.

Other first-round selections that year who went on to some measure of success in the Majors were infielder Johnnie LeMaster (Giants), outfielders Gary Roenicke (Expos) and Lee Mazzilli (Mets) and catchers Steve Swisher (White Sox) and Steve Nicosia (Pirates).

The Red Sox chose University of Southern California outfielder Fred Lynn in the second round with the 41st pick. Two years later, Lynn became the first player in history to win the MVP and Rookie of the Year Awards in the same season.

Yount and Winfield weren't the only future Hall of Famers to come out of the 1973 Draft. Switch-hitting first baseman Eddie Murray of Locke High School in Los Angeles was picked in the third round by the Orioles with the 63rd selection.

Others taken in the third round were pitchers Len Barker (Rangers) and Floyd Bannister (A's) and outfielders Mitchell Page (Pirates) and Ruppert Jones (Royals).

Pitcher LaMarr Hoyt, the 1983 American League Cy Young Award winner with the White Sox and the 1985 All-Star Game MVP with the Padres, was selected in the fifth round by the Yankees. Another future AL Cy Young Award winner, Mike Flanagan, was a seventh-round pick by the Orioles.

Outfielder Jack Clark, who went on to hit 340 home runs in the Majors, wasn't drafted until the 13th round by the Giants with the 294th pick. Relief pitcher Jeff Reardon was a 23rd-round pick by the Expos, but did not sign and instead attended the University of Massachusetts. He eventually signed with the Mets as an amateur free agent and was traded to Montreal in 1981, beginning a long career of success as a closer.

The Cardinals used their 25th-round selection (No. 567) to choose Yale University shortstop Dick Jauron, who was also a defensive back and a fourth-round NFL pick of the Detroit Lions. Jauron decided to make football his game and is now head coach of the Buffalo Bills.

Other mid- to late-round choices in '73 included pitchers Matt Keough, Bob Stanley, Mike Krukow, Brian Kingman and Jay Howell; infielders Wayne Gross, Garth Iorg and Butch Hobson; outfielders Dwayne Murphy, Billy Sample and Ken Landreaux and eventual hitting-coach guru Rudy Jaramillo.

One of the last selections of that year's Draft to go on to carve out a decent career in the Majors was pitcher Bryn Smith. The Cardinals chose Smith in the 49th round with the 741st pick. He did not sign with them, and a year later signed with the Orioles as a Minor League free agent. The right-hander compiled a 108-94 record over 13 seasons with the Expos, Cardinals and Rockies.

Jack O'Connell is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Make The Most of Your Opportunity

"You don't lose when you get knocked down, you lose when you decide to not get up."

I can't remember where I saw this quote or who said it. I'm not even sure I have the right words. It's just one of those thoughts that I recall from time to time and it gets me through a tough situation at work. I'm one of those odd parents that often see quotes that I think would inspire my kids. I usually print them out and lay them inconspicuously by the computer where they do their homework. They never acknowledge that they see any of these quotes and I never ask them if they saw it. The quote will just sit there for a few days and get tossed on weekends when my wife does her clean sweep of the house. But, I'm pretty sure they see it and think how weird their father is and then quickly move on to explore the wonders of Facebook or I-Tunes. Nevertheless, maybe it's one of those subliminal messages that just pop up in their mind when they need it the most. They have had tremendous success with baseball and have a pretty terrific attitude, so maybe....

This quote pops up in my mind because we have been receiving an inordinate amount of e-mails from parents that think their kid is getting the shaft from not playing enough high school baseball. Most are from parents of underclassmen and that will be the focus of this post.

First, just because a player is not starting or getting as much playing time as you, as a parent would like, doesn't mean that he is not learning, developing or a valuable asset to the team. Being on a baseball team is more than just playing or starting. Everyone on that roster has a role. Many high school teams have mid week scrimmages, and situational practices in which everyone participates. We talked about this in a a previous post. Those scrimmages and practices are just as important as the games to many coaches. If a player is good, then his skills may motivate someone else that doesn't want to lose their position to that underclassman. Many of you parents with bench sitting sons need to sit down with them and ask them what is their motivation? Is your son setting goals and working harder in practice to achieve those goals? Does he have the desire and the drive to want to be the first on the field and the last to leave? Does he hustle the most? Is he the most attentive when the coaches speak?

If so, then his time will come. If not...then that may be the problem at hand. Because practice and scrimmages are where you learn and develop's not always in regular season games. The coach may have picked up on that. The only way to turn this situation around is giving 110% effort, learning, developing and setting goals to get out of that mental rut that is often caused by sitting on the bench. If he truly loves baseball, he needs to truly love the journey to get there as well. That means paying dues, working harder, hustling and doing everything he is asked to do and more in practice.

But even if that player never gets his chance or is just not as physically talented enough to crack an everyday line-up, attitude and enthusiasm is still important. A player must realize that this is still a team sport and that there are other team members that need their support...a dead dug-out often results in dud of a game. There really is no room for negative attitudes in the dug-out just because a player is sitting the bench.

There used to be a kid we knew who was a smallish infielder who also never played much...but he never gave up trying. He was the inspiration in the dug-out, leading the team in other ways like spirit and upbeat chatter on the bench. He usually only got in games that were blow-outs, but when he got up to bat, he received more vocal support from his team mates than anyone else. He never even thought about quitting or giving up. He was having fun just being on the team, with his friends and for the love of the game. At the end of the season, the coach gave him a special award for being the most inspirational player on the team. He never played much, but I guarantee that he learned and developed in many ways other than just baseball.

Players, if you are sitting the bench, try something new and turn it up a notch and see what happens. The coach hasn't cut you. You ARE on the roster and he must see something in you right? Even if things still don't change then at least you can hold your head high and be very proud that you gave it your all and played the best of your ability day in and day out. You may not have a career in baseball, but that work ethic that you learned between the lines will pay you HUGE dividends later in your adult life.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Top Twenty...Play-off Time

1. American Heritage - Florida – 29-2 (1)
The Patriots win two more play-off games and are headed for a showdown with Pensacola Catholic this week. Joey Belviso continues to swing the hot bat and is punishing opponents with a .506 BA. Deven Marrero (.475) and Eric Hosmer (.451) are the reasons why Heritage remains #1

2. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 20-0 (2)
Don Bosco Prep is doing their job and continue to impress with big victories. DBP played Ridgewood H.S. this past Tuesday and won 12-2. Eric Pfisterer (Duke) getting the win. Steve Proscia (Virginia) and Anthony Gomez with HR's. They trounced Passaic H.S. 16-6 on Wednesday, Sam Cerbo (Delaware) got the win. HR's by Anthony Gomez and Brett Knief. On Saturday Don Bosco traveled to Staten Island, NY to play Moore Catholic and won 15-0. Mike Dennhardt (Boston College) getting the win. HR by Ben Luederer (Marist). DBP is 20-0 with over 220 runs scored vs 20 against.

3. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 38-3 (3)
After an opening round play-off loss, the Gaels toughen up and win six in a row. On Friday they take two and rightfully move to the next round. Durango and Spring Valley were the victims. Their next round game is in Reno on the 15th.

4. Plano West –Texas- 32-0 (4)
The Wolves take two from Longview and await the next round. Jason Coats (.452) and Kale Kiser (.447) are the offensive weapons that are fueling this tough Texas team. Ben Flora and Drew Johnson have 9 wins a piece.

5. Los Alamitos-California - 24-3 (5)
The Griffins are number one in the state of CA and are on a 11 game winning streak. They take two against Esperanza and are awaiting their section tournament this week. As good as they are playing, they should garner a number one seed.

6. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 22-5 California (6)
Like Los Alamitos, the Celts of Crespi are on a roll with 8 straight wins.
They showed their mettle by taking two from state ranked Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and they too await the section play-offs.

7. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 35-3 (7)
Midwest City and Yukon were the Rams first two victims of the play-offs. Owasso has history at these state games and are on a quest for a yet another championship.

8. Alvin HS - Texas – 30-4 (9)
Our correspondent down in the Lone Star State is a very trusted source and when he told us that Alvin was the real deal, we listened. So far, the Ryan Express’s old stomping grounds are another step closer to their dream. They take two of three from Dulles and sweep two from nationally ranked Atascocita and move up one spot.

9. Brookwood - Georgia – 26-2 (8)
The Broncos take two of three from Alpharetta in the play-offs and await the next round. In the play-offs, taking a best of three in a play-off is as good as a win streak. The Broncos would have loved to win the first two, but won when it counted and stay in our top ten.

10. Central Catholic Florida 26-2 (NR)
The Marauders advanced to this week's state best-of-three Class 3A regional finals with play-off victories vs. Cardinal Mooney and Bishop Verot.

11. Reagan HS – Texas – 31-1 (NR)
A few Texas teams drop out and that benefits Reagan. The Rattlers won three in a row in the play-offs taking two from Akins and one from Caroll and advance.

12. Dunedin High School – Florida – 24-5 (13)
7 straight play-off wins mean a state championship is in the cards for the Falcons in the 5A division. They play #15 Brandon on May 14th.

13. Farragut -Tenn.-35-3 (14)
The Admirals cruise past Bearden in the second round of the play-offs in a best of three and move up a spot.

14.Brandon - Florida – 25-6 (NR)
The Eagles are in the Championship vs. Dunedin. They are led by James Ramsay (.462) and Roderick Shoulders (.432).

15. South Caldwell – North Carolina 20-1 (NR)
The Spartans top Ashbrook 7-0 and await the chance to defend their state championship. It’s tough to repeat, but SC should be up to the challenge.

16. Barbe - Louisiana – 32-6 (17)
It’s 8 wins in a row. Their last two were playoff wins against Airline and Jesuit. That sets the table for yet another state title for the Bucs.

17. Aptos HS - California – 19-3 (19)
The Mariners get the number one seed in their section and play this week.

18. Opelika (Opelika, Ala.) 40-2 (18)
40 wins!!! WOW! The Bulldogs sweep Prattville in the play-offs and advance.

19. Calallen – Texas- 34-1 (NR)
Floresville is their first play-off win and they await their next opponent. Logan Verett, Deek Hagy, Kris Guerrero, Jeramie Marek, Skyler Hoelscher and Patrick Fraiser are all batting well over .400.

20. Richland Washington 18-1 (NR)
Once you get past the rainy season in Washington, they play some good ball up there. The Bombers blast Pasco in the play-offs 7-2 and 10-0 and well as crack our top twenty.

Friday, May 9, 2008

STUDENT- athlete...In That Order

RT Staff Note: Since we started this blog, we have stressed the importance of the Student in student/athlete. The NCAA does not take it lightly and is now handing down penalties. College programs are losing scholarships if they don't meat their APR (Academic Progress Rates)) standards. As it has been for the past few years, baseball programs will continue to seek out athletes with good GPA's, so they have a better shot of meeting the NCAA standards and keep their programs healthy and competitive. A loss of just one scholarship in baseball is devastating and since Baseball doesn't give full rides, that loss can affect the signing of two - three players.

If future prospects have any aspirations of playing at the next level, they need to level with themselves about their attitude towards school. Many of the top Travel programs out there are specifically interested in the well rounded athlete. Norcal, out of Northern California is recognized as one of the top competitive travel teams in the country. Yet they aren't just recruiting great athletes...they are looking for great STUDENT/Athletes. Twenty Two players from the Norcal class of 2008 are going to college to play ball. Their average GPA on last summers team was an astounding 3.55. Players from that team are going to MIT, Cal, Stanford (2), UC Davis (2), University of Michigan, University of Arizona, University of the Pacific, Cal Poly, UC Santa Barbara and many more. All of the other players are going to highly rated academic schools as well. That's what colleges are looking for, so hit the books prospects..It's a whole new ballgame out there. Enjoy the article below.

By Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY
The NCAA on Tuesday hit more than 200 college sports teams with scholarship reductions and other sanctions because of academic shortcomings.
Among them: Sweet 16 qualifier Tennessee and five other teams that were in the NCAA men's basketball tournament and two Bowl Championship Series entrants, Kansas and Hawaii, in football.

The programs posted subpar academic progress rates (APRs), which have been computed by the NCAA for the last four years and hinge on retaining players, keeping them academically eligible and ultimately graduating them. Twenty-six teams — including 20 in the longtime problem sports of men's basketball, football and baseball — were flagged as chronic underperformers and handed stiffer penalties, including reductions in practice time.

Failure to show improvement in the next year means they will face postseason bans under a program that's the first to tie such penalties to academic performance. Another 79 teams deemed headed in the wrong direction were issued warnings and could face the threat of such bans in two years.

"Academic reform is here to stay. ... It's been in place now for four years," NCAA President Myles Brand said. "Everyone — coaches, ADs, presidents and student-athletes — should understand that's the order of the day."

The total of 218 affected teams, spread among 123 Division I schools, was lower than anticipated as recently as late last year, when the NCAA projected hundreds more after a scheduled tightening of standards. No longer does the NCAA build in a margin for error that initially allowed many lower-scoring teams to avoid sanctions.

Still, more than a third of the 329 Division I schools had at least one team penalized. San Jose State was among the hardest hit, seeing 12.17 scholarships cut in five sports and an NCAA warning issued to a sixth. Sacramento State saw seven of its 20 sports sanctioned.

Two major-college football programs, Alabama at Birmingham and San Jose State, were docked nine scholarships each. Washington State and Idaho each lost eight.

Ultimately, said Walt Harrison, president of Hartford and chairman of the NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance, "These penalties will be equal to or greater than the most serious penalties you can get for infractions problems. We are taking action when it's needed."

The stakes have been rising for four years. Tuesday's latest round of APRs and penalties took particular aim at men's basketball, which Brand said "remains a serious problem." Fifty-three programs — about one in every six in Division I — were sanctioned, including 39 that drew scholarship cuts or practice restrictions.

Tennessee, playing in the NCAA tournament's regional semifinals a little more than a month ago, was among those getting a "warning-shot" cut of scholarships. The Vols were docked one scholarship. Also penalized were '08 NCAA tournament participants Purdue (one scholarship), Kansas State (one), Southern California (two) and South Alabama (one).

They were hit with the NCAA's first phase of penalties, assessed annually to teams with APRs beneath 925 (on a scale to 1000) and prohibiting them from replacing scholarship athletes who've left while academically ineligible. Football teams can forfeit as many as nine scholarships.

The second phase targets teams that score below 900 and have a record of chronic underperformance. Those sanctions first entail a warning, then further scholarship restrictions, practice-time reduction and finally postseason bans.

The NCAA compiles APRs for every one of the 6,272 men's and women's sports teams in Division I. Points are awarded, player by player, and the association has determined that teams should hit 92.5% of their possible total — an APR of 925. That roughly projects a 60% graduation rate.

In a statement on its athletics website, San Jose State said it was led to the no-postseason precipice by more than four dozen football players recruited before the arrival of current coach Dick Tomey in late 2004. They became academically ineligible and left the program in the past four years, pulling down the APR.

Tomey "honored their scholarships and now, as a result, we face the penalty," the school said. An appeal to the NCAA was unsuccessful, it said.

"We cannot undo what has been done, but we can shape the future," the San Jose statement went on, noting the school has upgraded its academic support system for athletes — a common refrain from schools hardest hit Tuesday.

Football programs at Washington State and Alabama at Birmingham drew the less-serious first-phase penalties, but they were stiff: the loss of eight scholarships for the Cougars (who had a four-year APR of 916) and nine for UAB (with an 869). While athletics directors at both schools called their situations unacceptable, they defended their overall academic commitment. UAB's Brian Macklin pointed to an expanded academic center, beefed-up support staff and new math and writing labs.

The NCAA acknowledges that schools with more financial resources are in a better position to address academic needs. But, "it isn't so much the resources that an institution has to put into athletics as what priorities they have," the NCAA's Brand said. "It makes more sense to put the money into academic support for student-athletes than it does in the development of new (luxury stadium) suites."

Alan Hauser, a professor of biblical studies at Appalachian State and the school's faculty athletics representative since 1986, endorsed the message.

"There are a few individuals I bump into — I'm not going to name anybody — who kind of grouse about the academic progress rate and feel it's making it more difficult for them as institutions to be athletically competitive," said Hauser, who heads the national Faculty Athletics Representative Association. "But ... the institutions that I have an opportunity to talk with are very supportive of what's happening here. ... I hardly suspect a groundswell against it."

Though men's basketball remains a concern (enough to prompt the NCAA to form a special panel to study its academics) Brand said APRs in the other problem sports of football and baseball showed, "Measurable progress."

Atop the latest listings were 418 teams that posted perfect 1000s, including NCAA tournament darling Davidson and Columbia in men's basketball and Creighton and seven other teams in women's basketball.

Still, in addition to Fresno State and East Carolina, New Mexico State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Hampton and Centenary were flagged with sub-900 APRs and poor longer-term track records in men's basketball and drew stiffer chronic-offender penalties.

There were 507 teams that posted APRs beneath 925 but didn't draw sanctions because they had no athletes who left school while academically ineligible or their schools sought and received waivers — granted by the NCAA when there are mitigating circumstances and the institution has an acceptable academic improvement plan.

Among the sub-925 programs not hit: six in men's basketball that have made the Final Four since 2002 (Indiana, Maryland, Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma and Florida); 16 in major college football, including Arizona, Purdue, Oregon and South Carolina; and 54 in baseball, including No. 8-ranked Oklahoma State, No. 18 Coastal Carolina and five-time College World Series champion Arizona State.

"That raises the question: How can so many schools avoid sanctions?" said Nathan Tublitz, a neuroscience professor at Oregon who co-chairs the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics, an alliance of faculty senates at Division I universities. "One can understand a few exceptions. One can understand that some schools have good reasons. But for so many schools to have so many good reasons raises the question of whether there's really any bite to this academic performance package and the sanctions that are supposed to be issued."

Tublitz is a "very strong supporter" of the overall package, he said. "It's just that if you're going to set up a program that has a cutoff score, you have to stick to that cutoff score and not continue to give schools a free ride. If they don't make it after four years, what's going to happen after five? What's going to happen after six? How many times does a school get an exception?"

Thursday, May 8, 2008


RT Staff Note: This is an article we found on Jon Doyles site, Baseball Training Secrets. Jon Has contributed articles on Rounding Third frequently. This article is from Todd Williams. Todd Williams is a highly-sought after coach based out of baseball hotbed Spring, Texas. His website,, is a great resource for hitting, defense and baseball strategies.

By Todd Williams

There aren't very many baseball hitters that can walk up to the plate and be successful without some idea of what they're looking for in a pitch. And since the rest of us aren’t in that select group of players, we better have some idea of what we want to accomplish before we step into the batter's box. We better have a plan.

What should that plan be, you ask? Well, like most things in life, it depends; but here are some general things to consider when putting your plan together. The key is to have an image in your mind when you approach the plate so you can stay relaxed and focused. If you've got the visual image there, your reflexes and instincts will take over; because after all, you won't have any time to think about it when the pitch is delivered.

1) Plan on being aggressive. Aggressiveness is a key element to hitting successfully, and it can cover up apparent weaknesses. Besides, the aggressive baseball hitter simply has to decide one thing only at the plate: not to swing. What I mean by that is when you're thinking "swing" as the pitcher delivers the ball, if the pitch isn’t hittable, then all you have to decide is not to swing.

2) Plan on hitting the ball up the middle of the field. Consistent hitters with high batting averages always tend to use the middle of the field. You can be successful being strictly a push- or a pull-hitter, but you give away some of the advantage to the pitcher, because they can simply pitch to your weaker side.

3) Plan on controlling the outside half of the plate. Studies have shown that nearly three quarters of all pitches in the strike zone are over the outside half of the plate, especially in youth baseball. Take advantage of that information and control the outer half of the plate. Then, if you need to, gradually work from an area of the strike zone that you can control to an area where you have less control.

4) Plan on pulling the inside pitch, pushing the outside pitch, and hitting the down-the-middle pitch back up the middle. Take the pitch where it comes and go with it. If you're thinking "pull" and the pitch is delivered outside, you're going to have a much harder time getting that hit, and you'll probably ground out to a middle infielder. So, pull the inside pitch, push the outside pitch, and crush the down-the-middle pitch back up the middle.

5) Plan on the next pitch being over the middle of the plate and up in the strike zone. Then, make adjustments from that basic pitch. It's easier to adjust down than it is up, and you'll hit fewer pop-ups when you adjust down. If you're looking for a ball over the middle of the plate, you won't have as far to adjust if the pitch is inside or outside. However, if you're looking in, then you've got a larger adjustment to make if the pitch is outside.

6) Plan on hitting the fastball. Make every effort to hit the fastball, because it's easier to hit than the curveball, and you'll hit it better than you will the curveball anyway.

Editor’s note: Here is a drill from Todd’s book "Baseball Best Drills - Tips & Strategies"

Hit the Stick Quick Drill
Take an old broom handle and attach about a 3 foot section of an old garden hose the end of it. Then stand at about a 45-degree angle in front of the hitter, point the broom handle into an area of the strike zone, and have the hitter try to hit the tip of the hose.

To develop a short, quick swing you should slowly move the tip of the hose when the hitter swings, making it harder to hit without a short, quick stroke.

Note: Don't make it too difficult to hit the tip of the hose. Simply reinforce the need for a short, quick stroke.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Relax Underclassmen, Your Time Will Most Certainly Come.

RT Staff Note: We get a lot of e-mails from players asking us for advice. Many of them are from underclassmen that aren't getting playing time on varsity. We have paraphrased them into one e-mail like the one below in bold. Our response is in regular type below that.

I am high school sophomore that is playing on his varsity team. Our team has played 20 games total and I have only received a few at bats and pitched 11 innings. I have delivered some good hits and have not allowed a run as a pitcher.

I want to play JV so I can get some innings, but the coach wants me on varsity...yet I don't play despite starters that are hitting in the mid .200's.

Our coach plays his seniors and juniors first, yet I know that I am better than they are. I am a talented player who starts on my travel team and we are traveling to all of the top showcases this summer. What should I do?

Your coach and many coaches like yours are teaching you a valuable lesson called paying your dues. He likes you...he really does, or he would not have brought you up. He just doesn't want to rush it too early. We have seen players brought into the fray way too early, struggle, lose confidence and move several steps backwards.

What you don't realize is how important you are to the rest of the team. Just you being there challenging the older players and showing them that there is a sophomore trying to take a upperclassman's position is a valuable contribution to the team. You should be causing the upperclassmen to work harder out of pride alone.

In addition, the coach is teaching you the values of hard work and patience. He is basically asking you to observe this year and learn from the leadership of the team captains and seniors on the team. Because he brought you up, he is hoping you are listening, learning, and taking that knowledge into your summer season and next year. He is not going to bring a sophomore up if he doesn't have big plans for you next year. Have patience. Many of the best players in major league history never even played on varsity until their junior year. You are obviously a special kid, but you must be handled with special care too. Play hard, never give up and have a great summer. By the time you junior year comes around, all of this will be so familiar to you. You will be way ahead of other juniors and will be looked at as their leader. Take advantage of that and show them what it takes to play varsity.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Graduates, Play Hard This Summer

Seniors are getting restless in school. The baseball season is winding down and many college bound baseball players are wondering what they should do this summer. Should you rest and wait until you enter college to play baseball? Should you have a full summer schedule and keep in shape? Should you have a low impact baseball schedule? First, now is not the time to decide it. This should have been discussed with your college coach during the early signing period. Many college players knew in November what their summer assignments were. They expect high school players to have their summers full as well. But just in case you are still thinking that your summer is going to be spent entirely at the beach or by the pool, you'd better tell that to your new college coach first. He may have other plans.

We know, it's tough to have a full schedule on your last endless summer of your high school year. But, if any of you young players have any dreams of playing next year, you'd better play hard this summer. Your college counterparts...the same players that will be your team mates next year are playing in summer leagues in Northwoods, Cape Cod, Alaska,Texas, Coastal Carolina and California. They are keeping in great baseball shape. They are doing it to make sure the new recruits don't take their spot. We only excuse the pitchers that saw a lot of high school action. They may want to rest it a bit more in terms of pitching. The strength and conditioning part needs to be stepped up.

Most of you high school players that will be playing at an NCAA school are in for a big wake-up call...literally. Many programs start strength and conditioning at 6:00am and they are intense. We sat through more than a few of these sessions at camps and this isn't High School P.E. It's best that you have a summer conditioning regimen of running (you will do a lot of that), weights (more of that) and a strict enriched diet this entire summer to get in shape prior to these work-outs. Being in shape prior to your college conditioning regimen will reduce the soreness and the risk of injury. Go to the local 24 Hour Fitness or Golds Gym in your area. Consult a personal trainer at least once to get a routine and commit to the routine at least three times a week. Both clubs have student discounts for athletes in many markets around the country.

Play ball and work on your weaknesses. There is not as much pressure to win in the summer after your senior year. If you need to work on hitting to the opposite field, them this is a good time to do so. Many of you were in set positions in High school, but may be more valuable in another on that. Work on the little things...bunt coverage, bunting, leads off of first with a lefty pitcher, picking up the spin on a pitch, hitting a slider, etc.

Now we are not saying that you should give up your entire summer. Go on your senior trip. Hang by the pool, go to the beach, go out with your girlfriend. Have fun! But, have fun knowing that you must take care of business first.

This is the BEST time to learn time management. Time management is a must for a student athlete and trust do not want to learn this for the first time in college. You guys may think that you already have good time management skills. Oh yeah? So do you do your own laundry, are you responsible for your own meals, and responsible for 100% of your daily schedules? I think you will find that mom and dad did a lot of that for you and this is a great time to ween yourself of mom and dads help.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Little Change In The Polls

1. American Heritage - Florida – 27-2 (1)
The play-offs are underway and the Pats are 4-0, outscoring their opponents 39-7 in the process. Joey Belviso is paving the way with a .507 BA and a Florida leading 15 HR’s. All American Eric Hosmer is right behind him with a .487 BA and 11 HR’s as is Deven Marrerro at .473 and 8 HR’s.

2. Don Bosco Prep - New Jersey – 16-0 (2)
This team could be number one if it weren’t for the hot American Heritage team. Don Bosco Prep played yesterday vs Mamaroneck H.S. (N.Y.), ranked #5 in New York state polls and won 7-0. Mike Dennhardt 6-0 (Boston College) gets the win. Don Bosco Prep moves to 16-0 and has scored over 187 runs and allowed only 13 in their 16 games this season.

3. Bishop Gorman HS - Nevada – 33-2 (4)
The Gaels demolished Bonanza, Clark and Durango and move up a spot to the top three. Jeff Malm and Joey Rickard are tearing it up with a .582 and .528 BA respectively. Joey’s brother John is not doing too bad either, with a .448 BA and is tied with his brother with 9 HR’s.

4. Plano West –Texas- 30-0 (15)
The Wolves cruised past their first two state play-off games against South Garland and are off to the next round. Jason Coats and Kale Kiser pace a solid offensive attack while Ben Flora and Drew Johnson have 8 wins a piece on the mound.

5. Los Alamitos-California - 22-3 (NR)
The Griffins took over the top spot in the California state poll with big wins in a home and home vs. Newport Harbor. Beau Wright is the mainstay on the mound at 8-0 with an other worldly 85 strike-outs in 56 innings pitched.

6. Crespi Carmelite College Prep – 20-5 California (6)
The Celts easily take a home and home from Alemany HS and stay put in our top 10. Tyler Johnson is 8-0 and one of the reasons for their success.

7. Owasso High School-Oklahoma 33-3 (7)
Sapulpa and Claremore were the last two wins and games of the regular season as the Rams gear up for the play-offs.

8. Brookwood - Georgia - 21-1 (NR)
The Broncos are the number one in team in the state of Georgia and they are on everyones mind right now as the state play-offs start soon.

9. Alvin HS - Texas – 27-3 (9)
The alma mater of Nolan Ryan is gearing up for the play-offs this week. They remain in our top ten after a victory over Clear Lake.

10. Seminole (Seminole, Fla.) 25-1 (10)
Another Florida powerhouse gearing up for bragging rights in the state when the districts start this week.

11. Moody High School – Texas – 27-3 (11)
This week will be the test for all Texas teams to find out who the true Lone Star in the baseball world will be. Moody looks to make a big impact.

12. Atascocita-Texas- 26-3 (13)
Lee and Northshore HS’s were no match for the high flying Eagles. Play-offs start for them this week too. Wish we could be there to watch some of these games.

13. Dunedin High School – Florida – 21-5 (NR)
The Falcons knocked off previously ranked Plant HS in the state play-offs. This is a time to get hot and they picked a good time to play their best.

14. Farragut -Tenn.-30-2 (14)
They beat Morristown and Maryville to round out the regular season. Now it is time for the play-offs.

15. Sarasota - Florida – 20-3 (4)
The Sailors beat Lakeland once in the Regionals but lose to Lakeland 6-5 in the districts and drop.

16. St Johns College Prep –Washington DC - 19-6 (NR)
We are swapping teams due to a showdown between Paul IV and the Cadets of our nations Capital. St. Johns came out on top 3-2. With as much talent as this teams has, it’s hard for us to keep them out of the polls. It’s our hunch that the Cadets will make a long journey into the play-offs.

17. Barbe - Louisiana – 28-6 (17)
They win their first round play-of game vs. West Jefferson and hope to repeat as state champs.

18. Aptos HS - California – 19-3 (19)
The Mariners beat St. Francis and San Lorenzo Valley and head to the play-offs. They also move up one spot.

19. Opelika (Opelika, Ala.) 36-2 (18)
The Bulldogs split with McGill-Toolen and move down a spot. Two more league games until the play-offs for the Dogs.

20. Calallen – Texas- 33-1 (NR)
Flour Bluff an Brenham were the last two games of the year before play-offs and the Wildcats downed them. Roland Resendez leads the offensive attack with a .500 BA. Logan Verett, Deek Hagy, Kris Guerrero, Jeramie Marek, Skyler Hoelscher and Patrick Fraiser are all batting well over .400.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Let The Coach Decide...Day 3

It’s amazing to us the way news travels when there are issues like parental interference with coaches. We have literally received over 75 e-mails from parents, players, coaches and even some school principals asking us for permission to re-print our articles on “Let The Coach Decide”. We have been trying to answer each one as fast as we can. Sorry, if we haven’t responded to some of you yet. The hits on our web site have quadrupled the past few days and that’s been an ominous sign that this issue is a bit more pervasive than we thought.

For the most part, coaches are thick skinned enough to handle all of the pressure. We were told a humorous story that kind of sums up the whole issue…

A college coach was being e-mailed to death by a raging father on the playing time of his son. The coach, after about 6 lengthy e-mails from the dad called him into his office. The dad arrived and the coach started off the conversation” Now let me get this straight. So what you want me to do is play my BEST 8 players...and then Your Son…Is that the message I’m getting from your e-mails?”

Well that’s the message we are hearing is going on in schools from coast to coast. The college coach’s response is what many wacky parents need to hear. I was told the meeting with the college coach was very short and the father quickly got the message. But will everyone get the message or are there some parents out there that really think that their opinion of their son is more accurate than the coaches?

Have you ever watched the first half dozen episodes of American Idol when they are auditioning the talent and the reactions of the contestants and their parents when they are told they are absolutely, no good? There must be a traveling gene that goes awry like that with baseball parents as well. Some of these parents are just living in a world of their own and oblivious to the realities of their sons talent. I mean, he is probably not a bad player, or he would not have made the team, but there are those that think that their son is the next A-Rod. Believe me, if he was, then he WOULD NOT be sitting the bench. No coach is that clueless.

There’s one player on a team we know whose son sits the bench, but he insists is better than the 3rd baseman that was first team all-league, all- section and verballed to a major D-I as a junior. Let’s try that college coach approach on this guy, shall we…”So, let me get this straight Mr. Father of the Son Who Is Sitting The Bench, you are telling me that everyone in the league, section and state has it all wrong…Do you mean the D-I University made an offer to the wrong guy???”

Yep, that’s how crazy it is out there folks. Cats and Dogs living together pandemonium. When will it all stop? Well, if one these genetic modification and altering companies can speed up the timetable on Flying Pigs, then maybe we can do something about it soon. In the meantime, it just takes a lot of education and we will be here to help anyway we can. It looks as if we have a good start. We know of at least three principals, 12 coaches and 85 parents from 37 states that are sending out copies of our first two articles. That’s us...Rounding Third...Changing the world one article at a time.

RT Staff

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Let The Coach Decide...Day 2

What a day yesterday. Our little rant caused quite a stir. We received 54 supportive e-mails, 8 comments on the blog and we went on High School Baseball Web and that discussion is still going on…40+ replies later.

But then we realized, of course we would get supportive e-mails. The fans of our site and the readers of HSBW are the non-whiners. They are the parents that get it and are constantly in search of more information and education. They understand that there is only one way for their sons to achieve success and that’s through hard work, a great attitude and an undying passion for the sport. If they don’t have those three attributes, along with their talent, then their chances of success will be greatly diminished.

Most of our readers have sons that play travel ball and through that experience, they understand that there is always a better player ready to take their sons position…many parents want their son in that position…it’s an incredible life lesson…because in the real world, there are tons of obstacles, thousands of competitors, mounds of stress and grizzly, man eating bosses and executives ready to churn and burn your ego. My son loved those hard nosed coaches…still does. They motivate, exhilarate and create a desire to be better…not to mention make life very interesting.

The parents that need this the most don’t read this site. They don’t care to. They live in their overly protected world and create drama for those that dare trespass into it. They don’t want competition, they want democracy. They don’t want their son to have to put up with a grizzly coach…they want Ward Cleaver. They protect their son, but in the process leave him so vulnerable to the realities of the outside world. They only want to win, if their son is part of the victory..,otherwise, they are the type of parent that loves to see a .450 hitter strike out and then say. “See, he’s not that good, my son could do better than that.”

So send a copy of our articles to a parent that doesn’t care to read what we have to say, but has to…Who doesn’t think that what we say is of any importance, but is important for them to know that there are others who don’t agree with them…to a parent that will read this and feel real uncomfortable and hopefully find comfort in our message. Then send it to your coach and tell them that we have their backs…and so do you. More on this topic tomorrow.

RT Staff