Getting back to the bases
SHEPHERDSTOWN — The sun broiled down its uncomfortable heat, and the humidity was at its relentless best.
But nobody seemed to care last Saturday at Massaponox High School just outside of Fredericksburg, Va. High school-age athletes were once more playing organized baseball.
It was travel league baseball . . . what players do these days.
Teams of athletes, banding together from various high schools and states for wide-spread summertime play.
Three Jefferson High School players, who just missed their junior seasons in 2020 because of the season-cancelling coronavirus, were getting the chance to recoup some of the games they missed this spring.
Isaiah Morris, Zac Rose and Cullen Horowicz were thriving in the oppressive heat, all three Cougars trying to round into some similar form of what they could have done in late-April or early-May of a possible Jefferson High season.
Morris, a growing middle infielder who is now about 6-foot-2, 190-pounds, was playing second base for one of the many travel league teams sponsored by an organization calling themselves the “Richmond Braves.” Morris had not played much as a sophomore in 2019, but was deemed to be a contributing member of this spring’s team-to-be. Skilled enough in both the field and at the plate, he appeared to be “baseball smart” and quietly confident enough to be an effective player, when the West Virginia baseball ranks begin again.
Rose has been in Jefferson’s pitching rotation ever since his freshman season in 2017. Slimmed down and ready to find his pitching rhythm, the left-handed Rose was a member of a team that showed many fresh-faced sophomores and even a freshman on its roster. Rose was the young team’s starting pitcher, and was on a pitch count this early in the summer season. He was around the strike zone, but missed enough with his curveball to walk five in his two innings.
Two runs were what Rose allowed in leaving the bases loaded in both of his innings. His team would mount a lengthy late-game comeback to pull out a win over a group that had four players going to NCAA Division I teams this fall, including Virginia, Liberty and Virginia Tech.
The third baseman on the team Rose pitched his two innings against was Cullen Horowicz, Jefferson’s regular third baseman as both a freshman and sophomore.
Horowicz batted seventh for his team of mostly experienced high school starters. His most-probable college destination is the United States Military Academy (Army-West Point).
All three players were able to be involved in doubleheaders on Saturday, and were returning to Massaponox High and the Virginia Baseball Complex about 25 miles away that had six baseball fields on Sunday for two more games.
Ordinarily, the heat of the sun would have sapped the players of energy and comfort. But last Saturday, the sun could not have felt any better or been any more welcomed by the players getting some of their initial chances to actually play baseball this year.