The Trail AAA Jays are off to a fledgling start in the North Idaho American Legion baseball league, but are determined to turn the young season around.
The Jays went winless on their road trip to Chewelah and Pullman on the weekend dropping their first two games Saturday to the Chewelah Northeast 49ers by scores of 3-2 and 10-0, before bowing to Pullman Patriots 9-5 and 7-2 on Sunday.
Despite their 0 and 8 record, the Jays have shown signs of promise, but every great play seems to be overshadowed by a careless error.
“We got a lot of work to do especially with this group of guys,” said coach Nick Combo. “We’ve got about half younger and half older (players), but we need to start putting in some effort if we want to start making a change in our season.”
In the Jays 3-2 loss to a very strong 49er squad, Trail led 2-0 before the 49ers came back to tie it in the fourth 2-2. Great pitching by Scott Davidson shut the Niners down forcing the game into extra innings, but Chewelah manufactured the winning run in the bottom of the 10th to take the game.
Lukas Thatcher, a 17-year-old rookie, has looked good at the plate for the Jays, going 2 for 4 in the game, with a .333 average on the season. While Davidson went seven strong innings, striking out eight and ceding two runs on just two hits.
Yet the Jays followed that up with a game shortened 10-run rule loss in which again errors played a part in the Jays demise. Lack of success can be partially attributed to its youth and an absence of leadership that was lost in the vacuum of graduating players like Garrett Kucher, Gerry Rebellato, Jesse Rypien and Brady Glover.
“They are having a hard time buying into the way the Trail Jays are,” said Combo. “We don’t have any kids returning from college so there are no older, mature group that can help lead this team.”
With minimal preparation time, the coaching staff is still introducing the new players to the Jays work ethic.
“Right now it’s not so much the physical aspect, it’s more the mental aspect, and the way we approach the game is not where I’d like us to be. Our attitude is completely where it shouldn’t be as far as motivation goes.”
Dallas Calvin leads the Jays in hitting going 11 for 26 for a .423 average, and a .769 slugging percentage, with three home runs, including two in one game against the 49ers last week.
The Jays are perennial slow starters but with a lot of work and practice the team should come around, says Combo.