By Jason Strickland Democrat Sports Reporter
July 16, 2014
Today marks the start of the Zone Tournament for the Rick Ball Ford Sedalia Juniors at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
The 38-7 Juniors take on St. Joseph at 6 p.m. today with Post 340 playing Lexington at 8:30 p.m.
The Juniors competed in the Wichita State Tournament this past weekend, so the team had a light practice Tuesday to prepare for the tournament.
“Just getting the kinks out and getting ready to win,” said Juniors pitcher and infielder Gavin Jones.
Jones is scheduled to start today’s game on the mound.
“I’m feeling good about it,” Jones said. “If we play as good as we know we can, we’ll definitely be able to win it.”
The Juniors went 2-2 in the Wichita State Tournament, which included 18U teams that had soon-to-be Division I players.
“We wanted to take them out there to show them that place and that’s where they should be two or three years down the road,” said Juniors coach Jeff Mays.
Infielder and lead-off hitter Baxter Mays said they were going up against 90 mph pitching.
“It was tough,” he said. “They were bringing it pretty good. We were trying to keep up. I think it gets us mentally prepared for what’s coming the few next years.”
Gehrig Taylor said competing against 18U teams allowed them to see where their skills could be in the future.
“In a couple of years I hope we are playing like them,” he said. “I hope we have guys that are signed with Division I colleges.”
Corbin Mertgen said getting a couple of wins in Wichita gave them a mental boost heading into the Zone Tournament.
“I think it gives us a lot better confidence to know that we played as well as we did with those guys,” he said.
Mertgen is scheduled to pitch Friday’s game, which will be at 3 p.m. if the Juniors win today or 5:30 p.m. if they lose.
“I’m looking forward to just getting to pitch again because I haven’t pitched since Friday,” Mertgen said.
The title game is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
“I feel pretty confident,” Taylor said about their chances to win. “I feel like we have the right group of guys to carry us past zone.”
Mertgen said he wants to win because he thinks the team deserves it after winning 38 games this season.
“I really hope so,” he said. “This team is really good and I just want it to succeed.”