Summer ball really does fly by like a low-90s fastball.
Marshfield baseball players are wrapped up for the season. Most stayed with high school varsity coach William Pate to compete with the Marshfield Baseball Club, while a few others competed for the 417 Baseball 17U Reds.
The local bunch wrapped several weekends ago with a premier tournament in Springfield. Pate attributed a suboptimal record, as opposed to the spring’s 15-7 campaign that ended with Class 4 district title, to playing with some of his guys who lacked varsity reps.
“They were a little inexperienced, but it was a good challenge for our guys,” Pate said. “We don’t see the competition like that in the spring, so going out and playing select teams from all over is challenging, and it’s going to make us better. That’s why we do it, rather than playing teams that we typically play throughout the school year -- and I’m not knocking any of those teams around us at all -- but it’s just a little harder in the summer to find good [tournament] competition in the area.”
It’s not that the Blue Jays never see pitchers of higher velocity during the high school season, but part of the challenge in engaging a higher tier of competitor is the frequency of pitching quality and opponents mixing it up.
“You see some guys that don’t have the velocity, which is good, too, because our guys have to learn how to adjust,” Pate said. “They’ll start a guy throwing mid-80s, then bring in a guy in relief throwing mid-70s, and we saw a lot of that this summer. Some guys up there were throwing upper-80s, touching 90, but only a few of those.”
Deeper lineups were another challenge for the Marshfield pitchers to tangle with.
“I was very pleased with how our pitching staff handled some of the lineups because it’s tough when they’ve got nine, ten guys that can hit the ball and hit it hard consistently,” Pate said. “You can dance around two, maybe three hitters, and go after the rest [during the school year], but that’s not the case in the summer at these showcase tournaments.”
Pate praised the summers had by pitchers Jackson Vestal and Ethan Grace, a duo he says he’s “really excited for” come next spring. Their relief opportunities were limited during the past season with the ability of starters like Truett Gardner and Austin Dobrick to go deep in contests, but each should benefit from the summer innings. Logan Crumm, a to-be junior, logged plenty of innings behind the plate, while infielder Thomas McIllwain displayed versatility that should also pay dividends going forward.
Dobrick, along with Brooks and Brennan Espy, competed together for the 417 squad. It was a shorter experience for the latter of the brothers, though, as Brennan’s summer was cut short on a slide at second base that broke three of his toes. Both teams involving Marshfield players did meet once late in the season in a game that saw Dobrick face his school teammates.
John Cavness, an assistant for the 417 team and at State Fair Community College, complemented the Espy’s athleticism, and as a former standout pitcher for William Woods, provided compliments and a scouting report of sorts on Dobrick.
“He’s a good, smart kid,” Cavness said of Dobrick. “He was one of the top two arms on our team, and we always tried to throw him whenever a college scout reached out. I think he’s a good, projectable right-hander. He was throwing anywhere from 82-to-86 with a decent breaking ball. But he competes and throws strikes.”
The next scouting report arrives on March 21 when the Blue Jays open the 2019-20 season.
Bryan Everson can be followed on Twitter @BryanEversonMF.