Young Sandlot team ready to make noise
They’re just getting cranked up, but Franklin County 10-and-under Sandlot boys are drawing fans as they get ready for a challenging year.
“We’re trying to build an organization here to have the kids ready when they get up to high school,” said Coach Brock Johnson. “It a start, it’s a process.”
The boys of summer have played in three tournaments so far this summer, two in Marianna and one in Donaldsonville, Georgia, and while they haven’t brought home any gold rings, they’ve finished in third place in all three tournaments.
“We’re a little behind some of these other teams that play this year round,” said Johnson. “It’s a different level of play. They got to understand if you’re not bringing it, these teams we’re playing will embarrass you.
“One team flew in a 10-year-old pitcher and catcher. It’s a big deal,” he said. “We’re winning games each tournament. There are a couple teams that are more seasoned than we are. We’re not quite on their level yet
“I have a good group of kids,” Johnson said. “I know in the long run we will make some noise in these tournaments.”
With the help of assistant coach Ronnie Joseph, and volunteer Levi Odom, the team is adjusting its lineup, making changes as it prepares to move up to 11-and-under ball next month.
So far, the 10-year-old players have include John Talon Mathes, Gabe Kelly, Brody Johnson, Presley Hicks, Kobe Joseph, Karcen Poloronis and Bentley Davis; 9-year-olds Brian Lee Taylor, Blanton Adair and Jasiah Fleming; 8-year-old TJ Petersen, and 11-year-old Jaxson Odom. Kelly, Taylor, Odom and Poloronis handle mound duties.
The team will be playing until the middle of November, and then will resume with travel ball in December and January, and then a full season from February through July.
“This isn’t rec ball,” said Johnson. “This is a big commitment, with a lot of sweat and tears.”
The boys practice three days a week in Apalachicola. Their next tourney is slated for Panama City Aug. 29 and 30.
“It’s early in the process,” said Johnson. “Once you reach the top of the hill, everything will get easier for you.”