- Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 21:11
- Published on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 21:11
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The mere suggestion that America’s greatest pastime is just a kid’s game can never be further from the truth in the heartland of the Northern Neck.
Whether it’s softball or baseball, the game has become an interwoven part of the sports culture associated with the Montross community. By reveling in all aspects of the game Abner Doubleday invented more than 100 years ago, the community has embraced the sport in the same fashion that thousands of other communities around the country have.
Most recently, the Montross Middle School girls’ softball and boys’ baseball teams hosted the Northumberland Indians. The high-spirited contests ignited a social fanfare of cheering, exchanging banter, adults bonding with their children as they played catch, and an uncontrollable urge to congratulate their chosen teams on a game well played.
For Montross Middle School head coach Richard Behun, the game has a deeper meaning. Now in his second year, he carries on the legacy of father who passed away last year before tryouts.
“He was more excited about me being a coach than anything, but he never got to see me coach,” Behun said. “He was always a third based base coach, and he is the reason why I am a third base coach.”
The impressive 15-11 victory over the Indians is a reflection of Behun’s coaching philosophy.
“If you watch my boys play, they are most aggressive at base running when they reach third base—and then they steal home at every opportunity. We utilize the suicide squeeze on a regular basis. We score a lot of runs this way — I learned this from my father.”
Zach Bowen and Cullen Bell were busy all afternoon long for the Eagles, as they were on base each time they stepped up to plate. The duo combined for five runs. The theme of the game was offense, as the Eagles batted around the top of the order twice — once in the first inning and again in the second inning. In fact, 10 of the 12 Eagle batters hit their way on base — and nine of the Eagles recorders two or more hits. Given the fact that the entire Eagles’ starting line up is made up of sixth graders, the core of the team will eventually pour into the high school system as seasoned players.
Washington & Lee athletic director Malcolm Lewis has experienced the Montross community’s involvement in sports throughout his life. The undercurrent of grassroots involvement from the coaches and parents filters into competitive nature of the athletes that are groomed from T-ball to varsity athletics.
“There is a generation of kids coming along in our country that have strong parental support,” Lewis said. “Out of this group will come our new energy. They don’t know it yet, but they will be our new booster members and, as they have ‘willed’ their children into productive and contributing youngsters, they will ultimately create a resurgence in Washington & Lee athletics — that’s the way it works.”
On the other side of the diamond, the inspiration of competition is virtually the same. The Montross girls’ middle school softball team is equally as competitive as their male baseball counterparts.
First year head coach Patricia France is very excited about the prospect of grooming her players for the next level of competition.
“We have a very young team this year,” France said. “I feel that if these girls stick together throughout the years, they will be an unstoppable team in high school. They have a lot to learn and work on, but they are willing to listen and never give up.”
Coach France is a foreign languages teacher who graduated from Washington & Lee in 2005. She played softball throughout her middle school, high school and collegiate athletic career.
The Lady Eagles have four returning players in the form of eighth-graders Mary Sisson, Kendal Headley, Morgan Hutt, Katlyn Reamy and seventh-grader Anna Sisson. The team is an even mix of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
On Friday, April 16, both Montross Middle School boys’ baseball and girls’ softball teams will travel to Colonial Beach to play the Drifters Middle School baseball and softball teams. Game time is 4:30 p.m.