At times there weren’t many players in the dugout, but the Sedalia Travelers still battled through this summer, and managed to reach the championship game of the Zone Tournament.
Manager Jeff Mays said for the 2015 Travelers, it didn’t matter if it was hot or rainy, who the other team was, or even how many players the Travelers had available, the team wanted to be out on the field.
“They were all just baseball guys that wanted to play because they love to play the game,” Mays said. “That’s kind of what made the whole team unique. They might play other sports, but for the two months we had them, they were just baseball guys that enjoyed being there every day and loved playing. … I think they fed off that with one another.”
A roster that included Smith-Cotton, Clinton, Sacred Heart, Concordia, Northwest and Lakeland players came together and Mays saw a team that spent the summer playing as one.
“What I saw was maybe some guys from different high schools and our high school in Sedalia that didn’t quite have as many opportunities varsity-wise that had some growth and performed very well,” Mays said. “I think what I saw the most out of this group was the way they came together as a group.”
The Travelers battled through a short bench much of the season with players away from the team for a variety of reasons. There were games the team had only nine or 10 players available but Mays said that in no way is the fault of the players.
“Everyone’s lifestyle is very busy these days,” he said. “Summer baseball, you want them to enjoy having fun playing baseball but you also have to understand that they have other parts of their lives that they have to continue on with. We always made sure we had plenty to play and we never had to miss any games and we had some success during the summer.”
Mays said it may have helped in a way as well to have games and tournaments with few available players since it gave the players who were there plenty of chances to play.
“It kind of varied week to week who was gone and who was here and it allowed everybody to have a lot of at bats and it gave everybody plenty of playing times,” he said.
Mays said it is not just Legion baseball and certainly not just the Travelers that deal with the numbers issues these days, which is why every team tries to carry 16-18 players on their roster.
“We have kids that would miss stuff for us to participate in other baseball things so it wasn’t like they were gone from the game,” he said. “Baxter (Mays) and Gavin (Jones) played for Team Missouri and were gone for seven, eight days and we had another one go to a pitching camp and miss some days and others went on college recruiting trips for baseball.”
Not many of the 2015 Travelers will age out with the remaining players knowing they will have to fight for playing time with Juniors players moving up for playing time on the 2016 team.
“I like them all,” Mays said. “I like a lot of the young kids in our Junior program that will have the opportunity to come up and look for more continued success next year.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles