As Sam Sees It
The future looks bright for Winslow High School athletics. The 2004 baseball and softball teams are back from their respective tournaments and both have plenty to smile about.
The baseball team went 1-3-1 against top quality competition at the Mohave Tournament. Winslow has used this tournament in the past to prepare for the regular season and been successful in doing so. This year, Coach Art Griffith reported that the pitching had been good as was the defense. There were mental errors, but that is to be expected of a young team. All of the games were close and the competition likely to be as good as or better than what is likely to be soon in the regular season. Winslow has an abundance of speed on this team and will put a lot of pressure on its opponents. In short, they play the game the way it should be played. Some of the same players who starred for the Bulldogs on the gridiron and the basketball court have adjusted their talents to the diamond. Sophomore Jordan Payne is an exceptional athlete. So is junior Lucas Armenta. Fernando Lopez, Michael Soehner, Lambert Dixson and Alex Richards give the Bulldogs a deep mound staff.
The softball team finished 5-1 in the Parker Tournament, good for second place. They, too, will be a team that features good speed and puts pressure on the defense. Freshmen Alex Magana and Shaleen Miller bring speed and exceptional talent to the table. Senior JoDawn White was a key ingredient on the Lady BulldogsÕ State Champion basketball team, but she hit the ball like she had been practicing softball all winter. Winslow has the best catcher in the state in senior Nicole Curnutte. The pitching will miss Daphne Barton, but seniors Juliet Sullenberger and Tahmie Smith, junior Brianna Conatser and freshman Magana all have talent and should be able to get the job done.
The track team was in action, but results were not in at this writing. Again, there is an abundance of good athletes wearing the maroon, white and gold. Junior Olympic hopeful Stephanie Garnett leads the talented field. Like White, she was a key ingredient in WinslowÕs championship basketball team.
Sports can play a major role in the lives of many boys and girls. It played a big role in my life and still does even those most of my role today is limited to watching and analyzing. It can be a source of much happiness and, on occasion, much disappointment and sadness. There are no guarantees either way. Most of us experience both and, usually, the good outweighs the bad.
There are some pretty mories in my past. I had success as a player, especially in baseball and softball and as a coach, especially in basketball. It would be almost impossible to say what my best memory was.
Believe it or not, the worst memories are easier. There was a dropped fly ball in an Arizona State Semi-pro Tournament at Rendezvous Park in Mesa in the late 50Õs. I still donÕt know how that happened. There was the time in a football game in Germany that I batted a pass up and allowed the receiver to catch it, not once but twice. Then there was the time I was cut from a high school team when I will always believe I was a better player than some of the starters, much less others kept on the squad. (I would even indicate that later events proved that.)
One of my favorite baseball players was the star-crossed Bill Buckner. Here was a man who battled back from a near career ending injury to win a National League batting championship. Unfortunately, he will always be remembered for a play that he would make 199,999,999 times out of 200,000,000. He somehow let a ground ball roll between his legs that ÒcostÓ the Boston Red Sox a World Championship. ÒCostÓ is in quotations because that play alone was not the determining factor.
Hopefully, Buckner views his career as a success, which all but that one moment was. Would he still play if he knew that was going to happen to him? I think so. Not every one gets to play in a World Series. If being the ÒgoatÓ is the price of that opportunity, it is worth it.
For me, it was worth it just to play in that semi-pro tournament. I would do it again, even if the dropped fly was looming in my future and not the past.