Play ball? Indians think of the future
Basketball players are working on their ball handling and shooting strokes. Wrestlers are conditioning and getting ready for challenge matches. Swimmers are diving into their season as well.
But at Scappoose High, they've just put away the bats, gloves, catchers' masks and baseballs — after some limited offseason work that was aimed at helping the Indians be ready for March.
Scappoose baseball players spent recent weeks doing morning baseball drills and skills toning in the gym, per Oregon School Activities Association rules, as they toned up for their second season under coach Cameron Webb. Hitting sessions and defensive work were at the top of the list, and recent good weather allowed the Indians to get on the field on Saturdays for intrasquad scrimmages as well.
Webb gives kudos to the varsity veterans, including seniors Ben Anicker and Logan Travis, for helping lead the way during the time of MLB playoffs, the World Series and major league postseason awards.
"They set a great example of putting in the work," Webb said of his experienced returnees.
Things are changing at bit at the youth level, too, where Scappoose has decided to shift its play to JBO (Junior Baseball Organization) at the seventh- and eighth-grade levels.
The younger kids will continue with Little League, but Webb said JBO can provide a better overall experience for middle-school ballplayers. Parents were on board and supportive of the move for players above the sixth-grade level, he said.
"There weren't a lot of other teams" in Little League for the seventh- and eighth-graders, Webb said. "They didn't have a lot of great competition."
Scappoose teams will compete in a relatively convenient JBO westside division.
Some local research found a good number of JBO squads within driving distance, with potential primary competition in Hillsboro and Beaverton.
"There are about 10 teams within 30 minutes of us," Webb said.
Webb grew up playing Little League baseball and then was in JBO in the Jackson area of Southwest Portland. He began his coaching career in the Lincoln JBO program. During his college days, he would return home and help coach 11- and 12-eyar-olds. One year, one of the teams he worked with went to Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, for a tournament. "An amazing experience," he said. And one of his teams won the JBO Junior Federal-level state tournament.
Webb said he thinks Scappoose will compete in American and National, the two levels of JBO that come before and under Federal leagues
"I think this will help us create a lasting, successful program," Webb said. "The key to that is having a good youth baseball program."
The Indians' returning baseball players recently took part in helping run the first youth camp of the fall.
"Our players are really proactive about teaching the kids and coming up with fun, creative adjustments to drills," Webb said. "As long as we keep the younger kids excited about playing basketball, that's the first step. That and having them learn the fundamentals."
And having fun.
"Playing baseball is inherently fun," he said. "Squaring up a ball with the bat is a feeling you don't get in any other sport. Throwing a ball as hard as you can, catching a ball, hitting a ball — those are just inherently human things and just naturally fun. And the game of baseball itself lends itself to having a fun spirit and camaraderie."
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