Tuesday, April 27, 2010

SPORTS >> Badgers baseball keeps on building

Beebe’s Bryson Scott, left, and Adam Naramore score in a recent victory.


Leader sports editor

Beebe may not be known as a high school baseball hotbed in Arkansas, but if the Badgers keep going as they have, that may change.

Beebe entered the week 20-2 and 8-0 in the 5A-Southeast as it prepared for critical conference games with White Hall and Monticello.

“We’re trying,” coach Mark Crafton said.

With four productive seniors and a possible NCAA Division I prospect in junior pitcher Griffin Glaude, the Badgers are trying to maintain the momentum they built last year.

“This is the best year we’ve had so far,” Crafton said. “Hopefully we’ll get a lot more kids out and continue the foundation that my senior class from last year started.”

The 2009 seniors, representing the first freshman class Crafton had when he took over five years ago, became only the second class from Beebe to reach the state tournament and the first to win a state tournament game.

Crafton only has four seniors this year, but they have provided a productive nucleus and Crafton is hoping the Badgers can go a step or two further this year.

“It’s not a big number but all four of them have really stepped up this year, offensively and defensively,” Crafton said.

Pitcher/third baseman Logan Ballew, center fielder Lawson Bryant, first baseman Adam Narramore and catcher Ryan Williams make up Crafton’s senior quartet.

Ballew has been a pleasant surprise on the mound, posting a 6-1 record, while Williams is the team’s leading hitter with an average around .480, five home runs and close to 30 RBI.

Crafton didn’t want to be remiss in leaving out his juniors, not that there is a way that could happen with Glaude in the group.

The right-hander is 7-0 and, more impressively, has thrown three no-hitters and was a batter away from a perfect game against Mills.

“I projected him to be our workhorse on the mound for us,” Crafton said. “He’s basically dominated so far, every game that he’s pitched in. “He’s had good success and of course we have had some stellar defense behind him at times.”

Against Mills, Glaude struck out 18 of the 22 he faced and, Crafton said, has never really pitched with the outcome in jeopardy.

“He has a chance to play DI ball somewhere,” Crafton said. “Beebe has not been known in the past for sending baseball prospects out of Beebe and this is my fifth year. In my five years here we’ve had about six kids sign with smaller schools and have an opportunity to go continue their college careers.”

Additionally, Glaude is batting .477 with 31 RBI.

“Hitting is a contagious thing and it’s filtered down to our other kids,” Crafton said.

Glaude, Ballew and the other pitchers have also benefited from solid defense, Crafton said. As an example, he mentioned middle infielder Jared Ashbrenner, who plays shortstop when Glaude pitches and moves to second when Glaude plays shortstop.

“He has been gloving it for us,” Crafton said. “Outstanding in the field.”

As good as its record is, Beebe isn’t out of the woods. White Hall is in fourth place, but earned a doubleheader split with second-place Monticello, who will play host to Beebe next week in a game that could decide the 5A-Southeast championship and the top seed to the 5A state tournament.

“We’ve never been known for showing out baseball prospects and we’re kind of not on the map yet,” Crafton said. “Hopefully if we make some noise in the state tournament they will start recognizing us.”