By FRANCIS FEDOR
The World Series is almost upon us. Baseball is winding down for the season, and the winter sports are well in swing. HS football is in the home stretch and just a few games away from the playoffs. HS basketball is set to start in late November when Durant travels to Sumner on Nov. 28 for a 6:30 p.m. game. But HS baseball doesn’t take time off here in Florida.
What many don’t know, however, is that HS baseball (and softball) have been playing out a fall season. It is a semi-structured season with the teams playing scrimmages and tournaments to get the teams some live action to help the coaches take a look at their squads for the upcoming season. It also allows the players to work on staying fundamentally sound and remain in a baseball mindset. All the South Shore teams have fall programs, and while they don’t count in any standings, they are still competitive. While the teams are using the fall to see players, there’s still a competitive nature and pride to the off-season. It’s also a chance for the junior varsity players to make a first impression with the coaches and an opportunity for players transferring from another school to become familiar with the baseball programs.
A highlight of the fall baseball season was an opportunity for two South Shore teams to participate in the Steinbrenner Wood Bat Classic held at the Steinbrenner complex in Tampa, Fla., more commonly known as the spring training home of the NY Yankees. Each team played three games in the complex with one of the games being played at the Steinbrenner Field under the major league lights. The tournament allowed the players to use wooden bats instead of the typical aluminum bats found at the HS and College levels. Both Sumner and Lennard played three games and both teams finished with 2-1 records for the tournament. Lennard placed third in its division with a big 8-4 win over Jesuit HS on the side fields on the second day of the tourney. Lennard took to the big field on the first night and lost a tight game, 3-1, to Steinbrenner HS. Lennard scored 16 runs for the tourney and gave up 14. Sumner placed second in its bracket, only giving up four runs over the three games, while scoring 16 runs. The tournament was a great chance for the players from both teams to play on the grass and dirt of a major league field. Local colleges have also created opportunities for the teams to play in a competitive environment. St. Leo has already hosted its fall tournament, and Eckerd college will host a tournament from Nov. 13-18.
There is still a chance to get out and sneak a peek at fall baseball before the teams wrap up to get ready for the regular season in early 2024. Sumner plays in a Saturday, Nov. 11 event at Newsome HS to benefit Breast Cancer Awareness with the proceeds going to Sylvester Cancer Institute and the Susan B. Koman Foundation. Sumner will face Durant in the second game that day at 12:30 p.m., and East Bay will face-off against Newsome in the first game at 10:00 a.m. Lennard plays on Oct. 24 against East Bay, Oct. 26 against Spoto and Nov. 2 vs Bloomingdale, with all of the games having a 5:30 p.m. start at Lennard HS. Grab a latte and catch some baseball action on our local fields.