Local Prep Baseball teams begin Summer League

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This week at Union University and Jackson Christian School, High School players from all over West Tennessee are taking to the diamond for summer baseball. It’s a chance for the boys of summer to return to the field with this past season still fresh on their minds. It was just two weeks ago when the Riverside Panthers played the last game in the 2011 season. Now two weeks later the summer season has started. Summer league baseball has slowly grown every year. Its a time for returning players to next years team to get a head start on next season. But its also a chance to get some of the newest players involved. “This is a start for our 8th grade kids moving into high school to get a chance to work with older guys and get more experience with what its like on the high school level,” North Side Summer League Coach Kevin Meadows said. “Some of these young guys who were on the Junior Varsity teams last year and who were in 8th grade get a chance to come here and play baseball in a situation that’s not pressured,” Jackson Christian assistant coach Chase McLean said. “That really what its about. The experience and a chance to play.” Along with playing summer league ball comes many challenges. The season is not organized and the sole purpose is to practice and prepare for the following year. For some that could take time. “Parents, Coaches, and players getting together and creating a team is a challenge,” Meadows said. “Of course its hot and its tough to get out here and try to prove yourself on a daily basis. They just want a chance to play.” “Honestly it may take an entire summer to get them ready,” McLean said. “That’s what we do this so when we get ready to practice come February and march, they re ready and they know whats going on and have an idea of what were doing here.” For teams like Jackson Christian, playing during the summer gives them the opportunity to build toward the future. Next year the Eagles will only have 3 Juniors and no Seniors. “Were a young team and were trying to gel together and mesh,” JCS Junior Ethan Mayberry said. “We only have three Juniors coming back and no seniors so its good for the young guys. It was disappointing not making it to the State Tournament this year and we want to get back to winning.” For High School students it can be tough to get motivated to play a game that doesn’t count. But for the most part its just another opportunity to pick up a ball and just play. Its hard to get out of bed each morning but we have a goal and to reach it we have to come out everyday,” Mayberry said. “State Champs is what we want. We know every other team is working hard and don’t want to be left behind.” “I don’t think its hard to get people motivated to play ball,” McLean said. “Its a fun game and when your having fun its not hard to have fun.” “Everyday they’re trying to prove themselves for starting positions on the High School level,” Meadows said. “Every time they get on the field its a chance to prove themselves to get a chance to move on to the next level.”