E.A. Sports Today

Oxford opens season in rain

Yellow Jackets throw first pitch in county at 10 a.m., chased by rain at 10:30; Jacksonville doubleheader canceled as well

Oxford baseball coach Wes Brooks (R) talks with Russell County coach Tony Rasmus before the rain came in their Opening Day game Monday.

Oxford baseball coach Wes Brooks (R) talks with Russell County coach Tony Rasmus before the rain came in their Opening Day game Monday.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — When you’re as passionate about the game as Oxford coach Wes Brooks is, Opening Day of the baseball season is like a national holiday.

Appropriately enough, the Yellow Jackets opened their 2016 season Monday on a national holiday — Presidents Day.

It was a blustery day as the Jackets opened against Russell County and the game eventually was rained out in the first inning, but it couldn’t put a damper on the excitement of the occasion.

“The day I got married, the days I had my two girls and Opening Day of baseball are all up there equal,” Brooks said.

Russell County coach Tony Rasmus felt the same.

“This is the funnest day of the year for me,” he said. “It’s kind of like a renewal of everything. It’s like coming out of the darkness of winter into a beautiful springtime.

“Driving up here I’m nervous. It’s the first day of the season after a long offseason of hard work and now you get to see if you’re worth a nickel or what.”

The game was scheduled for 10 a.m. in hopes of beating the anticipated inclement weather. The Jackets, who had been at the field since 8, were the first varsity team in the County to a real pitch, but not the first team to play; their middle school team played at 9:30.

“I don’t know many people across the state that are starting at 10 a.m. this morning, so that is pretty cool,” Brooks said.

Right-hander Dillen Miller was the Jackets’ opening day starter and was “honored” to have the opportunity. He gave up a run after the first two batters he faced reached, but sophomore first baseman Brennan McCullough saved him a run with a nice diving stop behind the bag.

“I was very excited it was Opening Day,” Miller said. “It was something we’ve been looking forward to and preparing for the whole year. I was really excited last night and yesterday when I found out I was going to be starting the first game.”

Temperatures were in the low 40s when the first pitch was thrown. Rain started falling before the first inning ended.

“If we get four innings in or if we get 21 innings in I’m fine with it, just to get out here and move around and play against somebody else,” Brooks said.

It was a struggle to get in one. The rain chased the teams with one out in the bottom of the first and Oxford leading 3-1 and the bases loaded. The game was called after about a half-hour wait.

So the game was a wash out, but it wasn’t a total loss.

“The coach from Russell County said the same thing,” Brooks said. “The first-game jitters, the first inning, the BP, the infield-outfield, that’s over with now, so the first game now we’ve already experienced that.

“We preach to win every pitch and I don’t know how many pitches we threw, but we’ve got it on film, so we can actually look at some at-bats in a live situation. Just getting out there and running through some signs, the game, the National Anthem – we won the National Anthem – we got to go through our routines.

“So, to me it was worth it just to get the 45 minutes we got in. Yeah we’re upset, we want to play five games today, but to run through the routine everybody got the butterflies out. Getting those butterflies to fly in formation is what you try to do.”

There is only one Opening Day. First Game now for the Yellow Jackets is Wednesday, with a tentative doubleheader against Huntsville — the team they were supposed to play later in Monday — pending approval by Huntsville’s administrators.

Jacksonville also was scheduled to open its season Monday with two games at Etowah, but those were rained out as well.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login