Having some fun

Players, youngsters enjoy JUCO Kids ClinicNew Cal 2 column format

Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College outfielder Robbie Dodds signs a shirt after the Kids Clinic at Suplizio Field on Thursday. A record 175 kids showed up for the clinic.



Most ballplayers would rather play a game than practice, but not all of them.

Some children ages 5 to 12 preferred to participate in a clinic Thursday night at Suplizio Field with some of the junior college baseball players in Grand Junction for the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.

JUCO Kids Clinic Director Kenny Johnson said a record 175 children participated in the clinic, which is in its 12th year. There were 115 children in it last year, he said.

Some of the children were on teams that had Little League games postponed for a couple of weeks so they could participate in the clinic.

Colby Reese was fine with that. Besides, what better way to spend your eighth birthday.

“I’m glad I got to do this,” Reese said. “I get to do fun stuff and get to meet the players.”

The children were split into 10 groups based on their age and spent up to eight minutes in each of the 10 different positions, learning how to pitch, catch, turn a double play, bunt, run on a pitcher and catch a pop fly. The children received a free T-shirt and a ticket to a JUCO game.

“I like being with the kids. I enjoy it,” Spartanburg Methodist sophomore outfielder Robbie Dodds said. “It’s all about giving back. They do so much for us in this community already. Any chance you get to give back, you do it. We used to be these guys (children).”

Dodds practically begged coach Tim Wallace to participate in the clinic even though Spartanburg was assigned to teach bunting, and Dodds rarely bunts as a cleanup hitter.

“Even though you’re a cleanup guy trying to hit them out sometimes, it’s nice to do some finesse things,” Dodds said. “You’ve got to show them fundamentals. You’ve got to know fundamentals everywhere you go.”

Eleven-year-olds Stevenson Reynolds and Levi Prall already knew how to bunt, among other things, but couldn’t pass up an opportunity to rub shoulders with the JUCO players.

“You get to meet them, and they’re really nice,” Reynolds said. “They help you with their baseball skills.”

Prall particularly likes Iowa Western Community College. He was wearing a Reivers T-shirt and cap.

“They are one of the nicest teams,” Prall said. “It’s fun being with them (at the clinic and banquet).”

Iowa Western sophomore pitcher Pascal Paul enjoyed meeting Prall and playing a little cat and mouse with the youth.

Paul would playfully pretend to pick them off attempting to steal, drawing a lot of playful smiles from the youngsters.

“I like working with kids,” Paul said. “They’re fun. They get to see us and have fun with us.”

NJCAA Poll

Iowa Western Community College remained No. 1 in the final National Junior College Athletics Association baseball poll, released this week.

The Reivers (57-5) received all 10 first-place votes.

Jefferson (Mo.) College (51-10) moved up two spots to No. 2, while Polk State (Fla.) College (45-10) is third, Cisco (Texas) College (47-13) is fourth, and Neosho County (Kan.) Community College (48-14) is fifth.

Western Nevada College (47-15) jumped up from No. 20 to No. 6, Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.) College (45-16) is seventh, San Jacinto (Texas) College-North (37-23) is eighth, Shelton State (Ala.) Community College (38-21) is ninth, and Gordon (Ga.) College (36-23) is 10th.

Walters State (Tenn.) Community College (52-11) dropped from No. 6 to 11. Salt Lake (Utah) Community College (45-10) fell 10 spots to No. 12.

 


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