After a year’s hiatus, Academics Plus has resumed its baseball program this season. The program was put into place two years ago, but didn’t field a team last year. First-year Coach Steven Tew and the 13 players are excited to see how the season develops.
Tew, who graduate from Russellville High School and played under legendary Coach Denny McCrotty, knows and loves baseball. The challenge for him is to develop his young players and also teach them the game.
"It’s pretty exciting doing this the first year," Tew said. "We have a couple of games we have a chance to win."
After his practice, Tew’s wife asked how the team looked. He commented that fundamentally they weren’t very good, but that the attitudes were great. That is what excites Tew and gives him hope. A prime example is one day Tew was having practice later in the day because of a teacher’s meeting. When he saw that he wouldn’t be able to be there at the stated time and would be about 45 minutes later, he sent a text telling the guys practice was cancelled. They practiced on their own until he got there.
Not only does Tew have to juggle the 13 players, but he also has to teach them baseball terminology. He has said some words that are common to baseball then realized he had to explain them. With 13 players, putting them in positions can also be tough. For example, he says if he has centerfield Will Redwine pitch then he doesn’t have a true centerfielder.
Redwine, also a basketball player, is one of six sophomores on the team. Three juniors and four freshmen also make up the team. Some have played baseball before, some not much and some not at all. Still, Tew sees potential.
"I have a couple of guys who can play," he said. "A junior catcher and a sophomore could be college players"
Redwine is the sophomore, and Tew says if he decided to concentrate on baseball instead of basketball he could go to the next level. The junior catcher is Michael Haug. Having played before, Haug has never caught, but Tew sees definite college potential.
Also mentioned were junior Paul Sheesley, who missed the basketball season because of a broken foot but is now healed. Freshman Will Westenberger played on the ninth-grade basketball team and plays second base. Cade Mabary will be relied on to pitch heavily.
The Falcons opened the season last week with a 19-1 loss to Atkins. Tew could see that some of the players looked star-struck and had to get used to playing. However, they did have fun, and after a trip to the local McDonald’s, Tew was complimented about how the guys were friendly and respectful.
Last night, the Falcons (0-2) suffered a 9-3 setback to E-Stem. However, they were tied 2-2 going into the sixth and down 4-2 going into the seventh. Errors led to E-Stem increasing its margin in the seventh. Redwine pitched 5 2/3 innings, struck out 14 batters, gave up two hits and two earned runs. He also was two-of-three at the plate with two singles, one walk, three runs and five steals. Haug was one of three with one single and two RBI.
The Falcons host Rose Bud on Thursday.