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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • We are so blessed that my boy has such a great coach. I emailed him thanking him for the season and asked what we could do this summer to stay in shape.

    The response I got blew me away.

    Our coach has the summer taken care of!! The team is going to be going through a summer workout program that is geared to baseball strength and conditioning. It will be done by a professional team that the school worked out a deal to come in and work our team 3 days a week!! Wow wow wow!

    Also, that isn't all the good news.....come to find out the season isn't over. He's signed our team up to play in a tournament in a few weeks. I don't understand exactly how it works but is some kind of showcase tournament with 40 of the top teams in the Southeast competing. Our boys will be playing against the best of the best.

    Our school's baseball program has suffered for decades. The team we had this year (Varsity) is only the second team in schools history to make the state playoff's.

    Our coach can't change things overnight but he sure is doing a lot of good things to make our boys as good as they can be and I couldn't ask for more.

    Sparks

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    • What an awesome thread! Good luck to you and your son!!

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      • Summer is here, for the first time my boy is playing Legion ball. Somehow our coach took our freshman team and just added them to the American Legion and made a team. We played a double header last night. My boy was rusty from the month off but it was a good tune up game for this weekend. He was the starting pitcher for the first game and pitched 3 innings and gave up 3 earned runs (all in the 4th inning). He was a little rusty and his fastball was probably about 1 to 2 miles off but he held his own.

        This weekend our school baseball team is going to play in a "showcase tournament". It's 40 of the top teams in the south. We are going to really go play against the super big boys. To be blunt we don't have a chance but it will be a good experience for the kids. We are scheduled to play 8 games over three days and all of the teams we face are just powerhouses. The good part is we get to go to the big city and stay in a motel for 3 days. My boy is excited. We haven't taken a vacation in years and we can't really afford this trip but we are going to go and and have fun. My boys is playing one game with the JV squad and the other 7 games with the Varsity. Not sure how much he will play with the Varsity but if he does play I'm sure he'll face the best pitching he's ever seen.

        Anyway, just doing a quick update....I hope our kids have fun this weekend.

        Sparks

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        • What a great experience for your family. Just soak it in like a dry sponge. They get too old too fast!

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          • We got back from the big "showcase tournament".

            Boy did we have a good time. It was three days of the family and baseball...I tell you....is there anything better?

            We faced some really good teams and pretty much got dominated by everyone we played. We are a young team with a great new coach that is on the way to making our team better. We are so happy with our coach and happy that he gave them the chance to play against top teams. We did win one game out of 8.

            My boy played more than I thought. One game he pitched they broadcast on the internet so he was kinda on "TV" (internet tv anyway) and he got text from his friends saying they saw him pitch on the internet.

            The first game he came in to pitch one inning...it didn't go so well.....he gave up 3 runs (one earned) but on the bright side he struck out three batters in the inning.

            He was also the starting pitcher for one game and my goodness this team was just a freaking powerhouse. He gave up 9 runs in 5 innings but only 2 were earned. They could just hit any pitch he threw. Still, even though he gave up so many runs he actually pitched well. I mean he was pounding the strikezone but his defense let him down. I have no idea how hard he was throwing but I don't think I've ever seen him throw harder....he was easily in the 78 to 79mph range and may have touched 80 a time or two. The ball was just jumping out of his hand.

            The last game of the tournament he played three positions in one game. SS, 2base and caught the last two innings.

            For a freshman kid who is 15 years old to play 3 positions in one game against top competition was pretty wonderful (at least for me anyway).

            I don't know what his batting average was for the tournament but I would guess about .400. (He didn't get a lot of at bats). The coach would use him for defense most of the time and it was usually late in the game to give the starters a rest in the hot sun. That's ok of course....he's got to earn his way in lineup. One funny thing happened.....the last game in the tournament the coach started him at SS and had him batting cleanup...lol. It was almost funny. The smallest kid on the field batting cleanup. I don't think it was intentional though....I think the starting SS sat out that game at the last minute so they had to rush my boy in the lineup and the lineups had already been exchanged. Still, he went 2 for 4 batting in that game with two singles. Not hard hit balls but good clean hits against major high-school pitching.

            Most of all we really learned a lot the past three days. There are a lot of good players out there and hopefully my boy sees the work he needs to put in to play against that kind of talent.

            But most of all we had fun....man did we have fun.

            Sparks

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            • Keep em coming!! Thanks for the update!
              "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
              - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
              Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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              • Little Crazy:

                We did something a little crazy... I know people have different opinions about such things (especially for kids that are only 15 like my boy is).

                They were having a showcase here in our town and...well....I decided to let my boy attend. It was more out of a reward to him for his hard work and stuff. I really couldn't afford it but I had a jar of change sitting on my mantle so I just cashed it in and paid for the showcase.

                He loved it and did really well. I was concerned about him pitching because he pitched in a game two days ago and pitched one inning three days ago. But, they were only going to throw 15 pitches at the showcase so my boy decided he would try it. His arm wasn't fresh so I doubted he would do very well.

                I was wrong....they clocked him with a stalker gun at 82mph. I've never clocked him that fast. His average fastballs ran about 78 to 79 and went as high as 82. Someone told me that they won't use his top speed and will average his speeds or something to indicate his velocity. I'm not sure, they said it would be two weeks till the results are posted.

                He also hit better than I've ever seen him hit. Of course he didn't hit any over but he was hitting the gaps deep with extra base power.

                He also decided to catch. I couldn't hear what his pop times were but I could hear his velocity as they called it out. They said he hit 74mph throwing down to second. Not sure how good or bad that is but out of the catchers that were there he had the fastest times.

                Anyway, he's only 15 and has a lot of growing to do so I don't think this showcase will have an effect on him one way or the other. He's been working so hard I just wanted to do something for him that he would enjoy and I have to say I enjoyed it as well. It is a large expense at $125 but maybe just maybe the little brat is worth it.

                Sparks

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                • This raising kids is hard and I tell you I still haven't figured it out.

                  Yesterday, was the big day for the showcase. My boy and I get into a small spat that morning.... I wanted him to wear one thing he wanted to wear another and then he wouldn't do this or that that I wanted him to do. You know how it is....he's 15 and it seems everything is hard.

                  We show up at the showcase and I'm a little mad at him and he's a little mad at me I guess.
                  Then he goes out there and simply has a day....I couldn't have asked for more.....he just showed up and really had a great day. Only three parents were there to watch and of course I'm one of them. I'm sitting in the hot sun about to bust from pride.

                  On the way home he turns the radio down....... "thanks for letting me go to the showcase."

                  Funny isn't it? You think you are doing all the wrong things then your kid does the simplest thing like turn the radio down and tell you thank you. It really makes all the bad days worth it and you realize that your/I'm very lucky.

                  My birthday is today and the showcase was yesterday. I've been telling my boy for weeks all I wanted for my birthday was for him to hit 80mph. He hit 82. You know....maybe the little guy does love me even though I'm old and an idiot and don't know anything.

                  Sparks

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                  • Sparks,
                    The only thing I feel I truly know about raising kids is nothing goes as expected... The only time we understand what it is we have done or accomplished as parents (or grandparents) is when it is all said and done and we get to look back.
                    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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                    • Our Varsity plays two games tonight. One game is against this years 2A state champion.
                      Although we are a 6A school don't let the fact that the team we are facing is 2A. They didn't win the state championship because of lack of talent. There is a good chance they could beat any level team in our state.

                      Sparks

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                      • Games:

                        We played a DH against a good 5A school tonight and the second game was against this years 2A state champion.

                        My boy started the first game at second and got two at bats. Nothing special happened...he went one for two batting and made one error at 2nd base. We lost the first game.

                        The second game my boy didn't play at all and we beat this years 2A state champion. I was a little surprised at the talent on their team. Either they all had an off night or they weren't very good. Maybe they lost a bunch of seniors or something.....either way our team got a much needed win after being beaten up on for the past week against top 6A schools.

                        Tomorrow we have a DH against a top 6A school in the big city. My boy was told he will pitch tomorrow but will only be in relief and not starting. Kinda disappointed I guess as I hoped he would start but I have to remember he's a freshman and he has to prove himself and earn his way.

                        They also came out with our American Legion schedule tonight. To be honest I'm not happy. It just seems like a little much. I don't want to burn my boy out and it leaves him no time at all to enjoy his summer. Our schools baseball team is going to be going to workouts three days a week for the summer and on top of that to play 8 games of baseball (each week)... well I think it's just too much. I'm not sure what I'm going to do.... Not only that it cost $5 per person each game to watch the kids play....holy cow I just can't come up with that kind of money to watch him play 8 games a week.

                        I want him to play summer ball but holy cow.... 8 games a week? Our team doesn't have the pitching for a schedule like that and I'm sure not going to let my boy pitch more than one day a week. I'm just not sure exactly what to do but I guess we'll figure something out....


                        Sparks

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                        • Horrible scary night

                          Tonight was one of my worst fears.... my goodness it was awful.

                          We went to play a top 6A school. I kid you not this team was out of this world good.... Super big and super strong and fast. By far the best high school team I've ever seen.

                          Second game our pitcher goes out after the first inning. They bring my boy in to pitch. Oh my God it was.... its hard to say the words. This team is so good there were 3 scouts there looking at a kid on the other team. My boy throws a hard fastball and the boy just drills it right at him. Hits my boy in the chest and he falls to the ground. I'm terrified and start shaking. As fast as I can I run out to the field. He's laying on the ground and I'm just.... well I'm terrified.

                          Ambulance took him to the hospital to be safe but it he's ok. Luckily he guarded himself with his glove arm and it bounced off his arm and hit his chest. We all remember the kid that was killed this past week from a ball hitting him in the chest. Of course that was the first thing that ran through my mind when I saw him fall to the ground.

                          But he checked out just fine and no injury at all. Big huge bump on his arm that he will not put ice on because he "likes it"....lol

                          Now the pretty amazing news.... The scouts were there to watch the other teams pitcher. They were clocking him and a friend was sitting behind them and he could read their guns. He was hitting 88mph.

                          They also clocked my boy and they got him at 80 twice 81 once and 82 once. Several pitches at 79. I don't know but I think 82mph for a 15 year old is pretty darn good, especially throwing it in a game to a batter.

                          Anyway, he is doing great and playing video games as I type this. Man was tonight a scary night.

                          Sparks

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                          • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
                            Tonight was one of my worst fears.... my goodness it was awful.

                            We went to play a top 6A school. I kid you not this team was out of this world good.... Super big and super strong and fast. By far the best high school team I've ever seen.

                            Second game our pitcher goes out after the first inning. They bring my boy in to pitch. Oh my God it was.... its hard to say the words. This team is so good there were 3 scouts there looking at a kid on the other team. My boy throws a hard fastball and the boy just drills it right at him. Hits my boy in the chest and he falls to the ground. I'm terrified and start shaking. As fast as I can I run out to the field. He's laying on the ground and I'm just.... well I'm terrified.

                            Ambulance took him to the hospital to be safe but it he's ok. Luckily he guarded himself with his glove arm and it bounced off his arm and hit his chest. We all remember the kid that was killed this past week from a ball hitting him in the chest. Of course that was the first thing that ran through my mind when I saw him fall to the ground.

                            But he checked out just fine and no injury at all. Big huge bump on his arm that he will not put ice on because he "likes it"....lol

                            Now the pretty amazing news.... The scouts were there to watch the other teams pitcher. They were clocking him and a friend was sitting behind them and he could read their guns. He was hitting 88mph.

                            They also clocked my boy and they got him at 80 twice 81 once and 82 once. Several pitches at 79. I don't know but I think 82mph for a 15 year old is pretty darn good, especially throwing it in a game to a batter.

                            Anyway, he is doing great and playing video games as I type this. Man was tonight a scary night.

                            Sparks
                            Glad to hear he's OK! It's a VERY scaring thing to watch.
                            "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                            - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                            Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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                            • Proud

                              I was so proud of my boy today...

                              Today we played our last two games of Varsity baseball for the year. My boy pitched two innings and gave up one run and struck out three.

                              If you recall in my last post my boy was hit by a pitch two days ago and was taken to the hospital. It was a very bad hit.

                              For him to get out on that mound today.... well it was something. Not only did he get "back on the horse" he did very well against a Varsity baseball team. Our starting pitcher was getting killed and he came in and stopped the bleeding and only gave up one run. We actually won both games today which was a great way to end his first Varsity summer season.

                              So his freshman year ends and although his stats don't blow you away I think he did an amazing job. Many of the parents told me today that they think he will be the 3rd starting pitcher in our rotation next year. He has the third fastest arm on the team and far and away the best curve ball. He seems to have lost a bit of his changeup so that might be something he needs to work on.

                              Legion ball starts next week. I wish my boy had a little more time off but the Varsity coach told all the players if they are going to be on the team they will play legion ball. Of course the coach is right and he's trying to make our kids as good as they can be.... I couldn't ask for a better coach.

                              Sparks

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                              • Showcase,

                                As I posted in an earlier post I allowed my boy to take part in a showcase that they were giving in our area.

                                The results came out the other day and he's very disappointed.

                                He had pitched two games in three days before the showcase....while the showcase was going on he came over and told me he didn't think he could pitch. I told him if he can't don't worry about it and I was proud of all he had done. He went to right field and did some long toss and decided to try and pitch.

                                Anyway, they only got his fastball at 77mph. What I don't understand is his teammates were standing behind the guy gunning him and they saw my boy hit 82mph but they only put 77 on the website. He's very disappointed.

                                His radar bat speed was 79mph and from what I've read that's not very good (I can't find much on the topic). Key is my boy is not and never has been a power hitter. He's a gap hitter that hits for average on usually has a high OBP.

                                Anyway, one thing I've noticed on these showcases (at least looking at the website). Is they are border line prejudice on size. I guess that's just the way it is in baseball though. I've seen kids that throw 73mph but are 6'1" get rave reviews but a 15 year old hitting 80+mph isn't looked at as highly.

                                Anyway, they have't come out with the evaluations on the players. They've only posted video and put the raw numbers up.

                                Other numbers my boy had were....

                                SS throw to first 74mph
                                Catching radar 72 mph (you can hear the coach on the video say my boy hit 74mph but they only put 72). If they are averaging fine but I can hear other boys and they get their very best times listed. BTW the best time for any of the catchers (other than my boy) was 71mph.
                                Pop time catching 2.13.
                                Pitching...
                                FB 77 mph
                                CB 64 mph
                                CH 68 mph

                                Running, he was slow.... 5.5 forty and a 7.63 sixty.

                                Anyway, looks like these numbers may only be about average for a 15 year old....I just don't know. If any of you have any thoughts I welcome them.....

                                Sparks

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