Good baseball makes Opening Day pain worthwhile

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I’ve recovered enough from my first day of baseball season to write this before the trip to Billingsley for Day 2. Taking pictures, taking notes and typing up a story shouldn’t require recovery time, you say? You’re probably right, but Monday took a lot out of me.

Because the first day state baseball teams could play regular season contests fell on President’s Day, two local teams, Chilton County and Jemison, hosted three-team round-robin type things. CCHS entertained Dallas County and Tuscaloosa County, and both LAMP and Shelby County visited Jemison.

Because I was so excited about the beginning of the season and because it was possible, I covered two games played in two locations in one day. This kind of opportunity doesn’t come along often no matter the sport, but I must admit I wasn’t in “playing shape.”

Baseball might be the most physically demanding high school sport to cover because one has to withstand the elements instead of watch from inside a gym, and the lens required to get good shots from far enough away to have time to avoid a foul ball hit in my direction weighs 7 or 8 pounds. Needless to say, I came back to the office Monday with a little sunburn (in February!), a little windburn, chilled bones and an aching back.

But I’m not complaining because my first game of the day, Chilton County’s 3-2 win over Tuscaloosa County, made it all worthwhile. I’m a huge fan of the game of baseball—when it’s played well. If you’ve watched much of the sport at the high school level, you know a well-played game is the exception rather than the rule.

The Tigers and the Wildcats, however, played a crisp game. The starting pitchers threw strikes, and the two defenses made outs. That’s really all I ask for in a baseball game, so the dramatic ending was a bonus.

CCHS’s Ben Handley pitched effectively and recorded his teams first two RBI to set up a sixth-inning, two-out, run-scoring single by Cameron Teel that ended up being the difference. The hosts would not have won, though, without some spectacular glove work, especially from the infielders.

If the Tigers can pitch, field and come up with timely hits all season, they should win plenty of games. And keep me entertained.