“Wild” tackles ambitious schedule of youth baseball games
Doubleheaders. Interstate travel. Competing against older players. Winning almost every time out.
Since the beginning of June, the Jefferson “Wild” baseball travel team has been playing an adventuresome schedule.
That schedule has taken the team with its roster full of Jefferson High players to much of western and central Maryland.
There haven’t been many days or nights that the team of rising sophomores, juniors and one senior haven’t played teams from mostly the Potomac Jr. Legion League.
The Jefferson Wild’s team makeup has a majority of its players from the 2014 Jefferson junior varsity team. There are a handful of players from Jefferson’s varsity team. Only one player, pitcher/infielder Beau Lowery, didn’t play at Jefferson this spring and the left-hander is the oldest son of Wild coach John Lowery, Jr.
The majority of the Wild’s games have been played in the league that consists of older-age teams from Winchester, Brunswick, Berkeley County, Williamsport and Cumberland. Other more distant travel venues include Damascus, Sykesville, Frostburg, Mt. Airy, Woodsboro, Cecil County, Gaithersburg, Montgomery County and Chaney — all Maryland-based teams.
A 12-2 record in its division of the league gave the Wild the regular season championship. Second-place Williamsport was one game back in the standings.
This past weekend, the Wild also won the league championship tournament, beating Williamsport for the third time this season in the title game played in Sykesville on Monday.
Losses to Winchester and Brunswick are the only blots on the 30-2 overall record.
This weekend the Wild travels to Cumberland for the Potomac Jr. Legion Mountain Maryland Classic to be staged at the Hot Stove Complex and Frostburg University.
Guaranteed five games in its five-team pool, the Wild has two doubleheaders in three days and could continue in the tournament beyond July 4 if it can emerge from its pool with the best record.
Aligned with the Wild in its pool are Frederick, Romney and Frostburg.
With its rigorous schedule, the Wild has to have reliable pitching to meet the demands of playing so often.
Brad Davis, Austin Bulman, Austin Cross, Dylan Carroll and Desmond Grimes have joined with Beau Lowery to give the team most of its strike-throwing innings that have already helped produced 30 wins.
Davis, Bulman and Lowery are all versatile enough to play other positions and provide hitting enough to keep the Wild mostly in the win column.
Mason Steeley is 5-foot-1, and the middle infielder can be overlooked by opponents, but his base running and very high on-base percentage makes him as valuable as any non-pitcher.
Coach Lowery, Jr. often uses his players at several positions through any grinding week.
With Alex Tennant, Cole Walker, Dalton Dodson, Michael Bailey Dodson, Grant Reed, Joseph Mills, Brady Hamilton, Josh Colvin, Brady Hamilton and Jordon Beans, the Wild have other players helping with adequate run support to aid the strike-throwing group of starting pitchers.
Bulman, Carroll and Cross were only freshmen pitchers at Jefferson, but all were varsity mainstays. Grant Reed, Grimes, Mills, and Beans were also on the varsitry roster.
In this week’s Cumberland-based tournament, the opponents will have many 17-year-old players.
When it was crowned the tournament champion of the Potomac Jr. Legion League, the Wild qualified for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) World Series in Euclid, Ohio.
That long-time tournament will also have teams from 17-and-under leagues. Lasting from July 17 through July 25, the CABA World Series brings in teams from Miami, Chicago, and all over Ohio. Past champions have come from Brooklyn, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Florida.
The tournament field will have at least 32 teams and will utilize 10 fields (including eight high school facilities) in the Cleveland area.
Facing older players whose teams had to qualify for the World Series will be challenging. But no more challenging than being on the road for at least four or five days and playing so many games in such a condensed time frame. Finding the energy and intensity to compete successfully against talented older players will be a learning experience for the ones just completing their freshmen and sophomore seasons at Jefferson.
But the Wild already has several championships to lean on this summer.
And with Davis, Bulman, Lowery, Cross and Carroll doing the bulk of the starting pitching more laurels could come to the Wild.