The Palmetto baseball team took the field for the first time this season on Saturday January 30th, at Panther Field in Coral Reef Park. The Blue and White game saw the varsity team play in an intra-squad scrimmage that lasted four innings, preceded by a game sponsored by The Miracle League of Miami-Dade, a not-for-profit organization that gives disabled children the chance to play baseball.
The game ended in a tie, yet it was clear that all participants were winners. The event provided a bonding experience for the Panthers, who helped the children round the bases and encouraged them throughout the event.
“I was enthusiastic about the attitude that our players had towards the kids and the overwhelming comments about how our players conducted themselves on the field with the kids,” fifth-year coach Danny Smith said. “Our players were excited for the opportunity to work with kids with disabilities. We will continue to volunteer in whatever capacity we can that assists kids with disabilities.”
After The Miracle League game ended, University of Miami’s baseball announcer Jay Rokeach began player introductions. Seniors were acknowledged first, running through a line of cheerleaders, then the junior varsity team, the freshman and finally the rest of the varsity team. Every player was individually recognized.
The Blue and White game commenced afterward and the game’s tempo was defined. After senior outfielder Tyler Arp led off with a single to right field in the first inning for the white team, he eventually advanced to third base before being thrown out at home plate on a ground ball to first base.
In a game that seemed closer than the final score, errors and clutch pitching were the ultimate difference in the scrimmage. Arp saw the game as a way to prepare for the upcoming season, which starts on February 18th against St. Brendan, and focus on the team’s core weaknesses.
“The key to our success against the district is going to be playing with little to no errors,” Arp said. “The first team that makes a mistake loses and it is usually a one-run ball game. So, as long as our pitchers hold their offense and we execute key hitting situations, we will overcome those teams, no doubt in my mind.”
Arp finished 3-3 with one run scored and an RBI (runs batted in) and his timely hitting ultimately led the white team to a 3-0 victory.
More than a game the event joined the community supporting the Panthers as they try to avenge last year’s defeat in the district final. Palmetto has been fortunate to acquire the talents of several transfers to replenish a team that lost 11 seniors last year with 13 seniors this season. This could result in a competitive record for the Panthers, however nothing is guaranteed in 9A District 16, considered the 8th toughest baseball district in the country by Maxpreps, a year ago.
Regardless of what the future holds for 2016 Panther baseball, it is certain that Saturday’s blue and white game energized players, as their journeys begin.
“Every year, the team looks forward to the blue and white game because, not only is it a kick off game to start the season to see where we are as a team, but it also gets everyone amped up and motivated to play better when all the people are in attendance,” Arp said.
Bio: Thomas Martinez is sophomore Copy Editor for The Panther, at Miami Palmetto Senior High School.