Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SPORTS >> Gwatney wins one at NLR

Leader sports editor

The American Legion season got off to a good start for Jacksonville’s junior ball club. The younger Gwatney team beat Sheridan 10-6 in the first round of the Memorial Day tournament at Burns Park, hosted by North Little Rock.

Alex Broadwell started and got the win for the Chevy Boys, who used a last-inning rally to seal the victory. The game was tied at six apiece when Jacksonville rallied to put four on the board and get the win.

The rest of the tournament wasn’t as good for Jacksonville. The Gwatney squad lost 13-1 to Lonoke’s AA team, then fell 6-1 to Texarkana, Texas.

Youth is the predominant feature on this season’s A squad for Jacksonville. The team consists of six 14-year-olds. Another feature on this year’s team is diversity. The team consists of players from several different area high schools, whereas most years the team is made up almost entirely of players from Jacksonville and North Pulaski.

“We’re very young and most of ‘em haven’t played together very much,” Jacksonville coach Bob Hickingbotham said. “It makes it hard sometimes when you’re not very familiar at all with your teammates.”

Making things worse for Jacksonville in its second game Saturday was a shortage of players. There are only 11 on the roster, and three left the game with illness or injury.

Lonoke allowed Jacksonville to re-enter a player who had left with illness, just two finish the game after two more Gwatney players got hurt.

Hickingbotham is committed to patience with the young and inexperienced team.

“We had some bad breaks but we made a lot of mistakes too,” Hickingbotham said. “That’s going to happen. We’ve only been on the practice field twice, and we don’t know yet what everybody is going to do.”

The Gwatney senior team hasn’t played yet. Both teams are scheduled for a doubleheader against Sylvan Hills Thursday night in Sherwood.