Learning structure, fundamentals and sportsmanship key in Little League

 

The Española Valley Youth Baseball/Softball League season is winding down, but games were played in full force over the Matanza celebration weekend at the Lucero Center.

The Braves and the Wolves of the Española Minors division squared-off on the evening of June 1.

The Braves were looking to improve upon their 8-2 record — and did just that, with a 10-5 victory over the Wolves.

The Wolves jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the top of the first inning, but the Braves responded with five runs of their own, then scored five more to win 10-5.

The league’s rules only allow a team to score five runs per inning to keep scores from getting out of hand.

However, the little league experience is not all about winning or losing, but teaching the players structure, fundamentals and sportsmanship.

“These kids are learning a lot and that’s really all that matters,” Wolves’ manager Chance Hedrick said.

The Braves were led by two strong performances, which included one on offense and defense.

Young slugger Lucas Martinez had two powerful hits, one resulting in an inside-the-park home run and a two-run RBI triple on the last at-bat of the game.

Martinez described his performance as simply as you would expect from a child when asked how he hit the ball so well.

“You just watch the ball and hit it with the bat,” he said with confidence.

His teammate and pitcher, Luis Perez, had command of the mound during the second inning after Jorge Ramos pitched the first. Perez threw three strikeouts and surrendered zero runs.

“It’s amazing how much these kids learn throughout the season,” Braves head coach Leonard Martinez said. “In a mid-season practice, we found out Luis was a really good pitcher, so we let him pitch and just kept encouraging him.”

Perez said he would like to continue pitching because it makes him feel like a leader for his team, who he has grown to enjoy playing with over the course of the season.

“I like pitching because you’re the main person out there,” he said. “I help my team. I’ve enjoyed playing with them and I hope I can play with them next year too.”

Games continued over the weekend on June 2, including another minors match-up between the Española Cubs and Comets.

The Cubs rolled to a 12-7 victory after leading 12-2 heading into the fourth and final inning.

Cubs’ pitcher Jeremiah Rodriguez pitched most of the afternoon and was only slowed by the sun’s rays and heat.

At one point before a pitch, he hesitated and held back, which prompted the Cubs’ coaching staff to believe he was injured.

“My hand’s just sweaty,” he said as the coaches approached the mound.

His response brought laughter to his relieved coaches and the parents.

Overall, pitching in little league is anything but consistent as players are just learning the fundamentals. This makes the play of the catcher even more vital.

Adrian Overson stood out for the Cubs, as he often had to adjust and dive out wide to stop balls from getting past the batters box.

He also showed great alertness and athleticism, tossing aside his catchers mask at a moment’s notice to throw the ball wherever he needed to make a play. 

Cubs’ manager Jeremy Martinez gave his players some words of encouragement after their victory and led a prayer with the group to close out the day.

“It’s challenging (to coach them) but it’s so much fun because I played the game,” Jeremy Martinez said. “What I try to instill in them is to become good sportsman’s and good role models. I just want to give them something in their life they can use as a tool, whether that translates to baseball later on, or life in general.”

The little league schedule runs through June 9. All-star tryouts will be held later in the month, but the coaches were unsure of an exact date at this point.

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