King’s Fork eighth-grade pitcher Ricky McCleod Jr. logs some experience at bat, playing with and against teammates and varsity players during the 100 Inning Preseason Game on Saturday at King’s Fork.
King’s Fork eighth-grade pitcher Ricky McCleod Jr. logs some experience at bat, playing with and against teammates and varsity players during the 100 Inning Preseason Game on Saturday at King’s Fork.

Bulldogs play 100 innings

Published 8:05pm Saturday, March 9, 2013

A little after 9 a.m. on Saturday morning at King’s Fork High School, the Bulldogs baseball program began a nearly six-hour on-field contest called the 100 Inning Preseason Game.

The event was designed to give parents and fans a preview of the 2013 teams and to energize the players with a fun, endurance challenge on the last weekend before the start of the season.

The temperature, on the lower end of the 40s, was still not optimal as the maroon and gray teams took the field. Two varsity captains had picked teams the day before from a pool that included both the varsity and junior varsity rosters. Four coaches split up the pitching duties and the team on defense was required to generate nine outs in order to go back on offense.

A few parents and family members of the players were on hand early, prepared both for the cold and a long stay. Jennifer Taylor was one of those parents. She brought her son, Jamal Taylor, who is a freshman JV player.

“I’m out here to support him and really look at the team,” she said. “I like baseball a lot. Jamal’s been playing since he was 5 years old.”

Opal McCleod was in attendance with her young daughter, Kaitlin, and husband, Ricky McCleod Sr.

“We try to make every game, try to support the team, and the coaches,” Opal McCleod said. “They’re out here, pretty much on our their own, because they love the kids. It’s not for the pay.”

She and her husband had two sons involved in the game — Ricky Jr., an eighth-grade JV player who was on the gray team, and his older brother Janal McCleod, who serves as the JV team manager and is also a senior at King’s Fork.

Joe Jones, head coach of the football team at King’s Fork, was in attendance as his son, Bryce, who plays for the varsity team. He praised head baseball coach Pat Stafford for the event and everything he has done thus far to help prepare for the 2013 season.

“It’s not just about wins and losses,” Jones said. “It’s just about the program and I think he’s really doing a good job getting the program together.”

The parents readily saw the benefits that could come from having an event like the 100 inning game.

“It can bring the team together as one and help them to encourage the other person to get to the next level, and I think they do a great job of that,” Opal McCleod said. “I’m excited about this year’s team.”

In the dugout, early on during the game, her son, Ricky Jr., said that he was enjoying the event, “especially playing with some of these seniors, it’s a good opportunity.”

His team ended up coming from behind and winning, 35-28.

“I think if we can get through a hundred innings, just us, we can do anything with a regular game,” senior first baseman T.J. Cain said. “It will prepare us mentally and physically.”

Stafford was pleased to see his goals for the event met.

“We had all the parents out here, fans out here,” he said. “They got a chance to see what we’re doing out here, what we’ve been working on. I noticed there were some fans that just were fans of the baseball program, watching the kids growing up, who were out here watching them just because they hadn’t seen them in a while.”

“On top of that, all the players got lots of at bats, lots of ground balls, lots of pop flies, so we had a lot of reps in today, so that was one of the most important things about it,” he said. “I think the guys enjoyed it. They were dragging a little towards the end because I guess it was so long, but they enjoyed it.”

The Bulldogs begin the regular season on Tuesday at home against Deep Creek.

 

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