This year, COVID-19 wiped away all spring sports and forced senior student-athletes in high school to miss out on their final seasons. Baseball was one of those sports whose season was cut short and never postponed to a later date. Now, after months of inactivity, baseball will be back the weekend of July 24-25 inside Momentum Bank Ballpark.
The Midland Rockhounds and their Assistant General Manager, Ray Fieldhouse, have put together the “Senior Series” for players who graduated back in May and did not get to finish their final season. There will be a total of four teams competing against each other over the two-day tournament and each is led by a local coach from around the Permian Basin.
“The Coronavirus has affected every walk of life across the country, including baseball,” the Rockhounds’ press release said. “The Major Leagues are attempting to play a truncated season as Minor League Baseball’s season (including the Rockhounds) was officially canceled last week.
“For High School players in the Permian Basin, the season ended almost as soon as it began (the last games were played in March). The “lost season” was especially impactful for players in their senior seasons.”
Now, all of those seniors who did not get to finish out their playing careers on their own terms will be able to have a little more closure on their baseball playing careers.
Each tournament team will be made up of a random group of players that have agreed to participate. Each squad will play three games over the two days in a round robin tournament that will determine the winner. All of the teams should be evenly matched because of the random player placement and it should make for a nice two days away at the ballpark.
“It’s not going to be the greatest baseball ever but it’s something for the kids and it’s something for everybody to get back into life. It’s a live sporting event so I think a lot of people will be excited to come out and watch,” Carrillo said.
Carrillo will be one of four local head coaches that will lead one of the teams next weekend. The others include Bobby Alvarez (Lamesa), Robert Morris (Andrews), and Jeremy Mueller (Midland). There will also be a fifth coach, Vince Lavalee (Seminole), that will be a part of the coaching staff.
All of those schools will be represented on the field as well as players from seven different high schools around the Permian Basin (Crane, Coahoma, Midland Christian, Midland Lee, Monahans, Odessa, and Odessa Permian).
“Our goal is to give these kids a chance to take the diamond one more time to cap off their senior seasons,” Fieldhouse said. “It’s a chance to experience the camaraderie, have some fun, and put the finishing touches on their high school careers.”
Carrillo gives all of the credit to Fieldhouse and the Rockhounds for putting this event on and he could not be happier to be apart of it. The Steers’ head coach is a player’s coach who is always looking out for his team and each individual player. When the opportunity arose for Carrillo to coach in this tournament and for some of his players to be able to participate, he jumped at the idea and quickly got three Big Spring Steers to commit to playing next weekend.
Those three players will be Timothy Banks, Joshua Wood, and Tristan Wright.
Carrillo reached out to some more of his seniors that played for him over the past few years to play in the tournament as well. But, after months of inactivity and a mindset that their playing days were over, there was only a trio of players who decided to play.
“There’s going to be some challenges to it just because they haven’t played in a while but I think it’s a good thing,” Carrillo said. “There are a lot of times where you’re deep in the season and things end unexpectedly. This is a chance where you know this is going to be your last game, you know this is going to be the last time you’re on the field and putting your uniform on. So, this way they get to have some closure. It’ll be a different feeling but it’s a case where it’ll feel good to know this is the last hurrah. I just think it gives some closure to them and gives us all a chance at getting back to some sense of normalcy.”
As of right now, there is one set day of “practice” at D-BAT Permian Basin for the tournament teams leading up to next weekend. These players have not gone into a competitive game environment for four months now and are sure to be rusty. Carrillo does not believe it will be the best-looking baseball ever played but he does think that each player, coach, and fan will be able to enjoy the simple fact that they are sitting in a ballpark watching a game.
“This is a time where we can show there’s some hope, there’s some light, but everyone has to be smart about it,” Carrillo said.
GUIDELINES: (1) Masks will be required in ALL areas except when in your seats. (2) Social distancing and all other guidelines will be observed. (3) Adult tickets will be $8 per session or there is a $20 pass for the entire tournament. Kids/Student tickets will cost $5 per session or $12 for the entire tournament.
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.