JV team proves to be baseball gem
By Jonathan PleasantWhile the JCHS Varsity baseball team had a rough start and an even rougher finish to their season this year, the Longhorns had a hidden gem in their Junior Varsity, who did exceptionally well and performed far above the expectations set for them. Pulling out 13 wins overall, with some very big upsets along the way, head Coach Nicholas Perkins couldn’t be prouder of his team’s efforts.
“This is my fifth year as the head JV Coach and this is the best team I’ve ever had,” Perkins said. “We started out one and five and were really struggling through the first six games of the season, but then we went on to win 12 of our final 13 games to finish 13 and 6. They swept a double header at Elizabethton, had a home win against David Crockett, beat Sullivan East very soundly at Sullivan East. It was just a nice JV season and we feel good about it. We played nine JV conference games and we won seven of those. We’re excited about what these kids can do for us in the future.”
Made up of younger players who sometimes are just starting their baseball careers, the Junior Varsity program naturally has different goals and objectives than the older and more experienced varsity team, but Perkins made a point to emphasize that he takes the season very seriously and puts a lot of value on the lessons that JV has to offer.
“I’ve never tried to deceive anyone,” said Perkins. “The JV level is not the varsity level. We’ve had several good pitchers and position players on the JV level who didn’t translate that success to varsity, but I feel very strongly that JV helps as far as learning things like offensive and defensive signs, defensive coverages, how to run plays, and how to run the bases. We have several freshmen who are just learning to play high school baseball. They join our baseball program, and in some ways it can be a culture shock. It’s a different world as far as baseball is concerned, but I feel JV is crucial for helping younger players, less experienced players, learn how to play the game, and that can’t be understated.”
When asked what has made this year so much stronger than those in the past, Perkins explained that more than anything it has been the team’s ability to hit the ball.
“This was the best offensive JV team that I’ve ever had,” the coach said. “We had a JV team batting average of .331. That’s in comparison to our 2012 JV team batting average of .246. We had a team on base percentage of .453, so 45% of the time our guys were getting on base. As a pitching staff we had a team ERA of 4.96, which although not exceptional it’s also not horrible. Our pitchers competed, they were solid, but I think our batting was pretty consistent. We had six guys hit over .300. Brandon Vannoy hit an amazing .512, with a .580 on base percentage. Samuel Icenhour hit a .426 with a .590 on base percentage. I hate to name names and leave anyone out, because this team just hit the baseball really well. There is a lot of repetition in the future for these young players.”
With 19 games overall, this was the most intense Junior Varsity season that the Longhorns have been able to put together since long time Coach Pete Pavusek took over the baseball program, and even featured a handful of “C” team games made up of strictly underclassmen. Yet, with a huge group of seniors leaving the varsity team after this year, the extra time on the field for the JV could be just what the Longhorns need to help smooth the transition.
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