Local junior high baseball teams have started their fall schedule of games as allowed through the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association.
Under the SIJHSAA rules, schools that opt to field teams may play a maximum of two contests per week and no tournaments. One of those contests can be a doubleheader against the same opponent, resulting in three total games weekly.
Spectator and group gatherings are subject to Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Waterloo Junior High School baseball team is 3-0 on the season following wins of 11-1 and 11-2 over Smithton on Aug. 15 and a 16-1 victory over Red Bud last Tuesday.
Longtime Waterloo head baseball coach Mark Vogel said his junior high program has a roster of 24 players this fall, which has allowed for plenty of intrasquad games in addition to the truncated regular schedule.
“We’re all trying to adapt the best we can to the times,” Vogel said.
Among the top eighth graders for Waterloo, Vogel said, are shortstop Nate Charron, pitcher/infielder Max Oswald, infielder Mason Riggs and pitcher/catcher Aiden Sensel.
“It’s an athletic class,” Vogel assessed of his eighth graders. “We’re deep and many positions and I like the team speed.”
Vogel said this team speed has enabled the Bulldogs to put offensive pressure on its early opponents.
“We’re putting the ball in play and using our speed to score runs right now,” he said.
Due to a lack of players to field individual squads, the Catholic schools of Ss. Peter & Paul in Waterloo and St. James in Millstadt have joined in a cooperative agreement to play as one team.
SPPCS/St. James has two eighth graders from Waterloo, Layne Wilkens and Tyler Frierdich. Other members of the varsity squad are Bryce Schaltenbrand, Noah Koeninger, Evan Hoffman, Kyle Toenjes, Marshall Adams, Sean Woodcock, Nathaniel Atkinson, Gavin Sanders and Parker Scarbrough.
Following a loss to Valmeyer on Aug. 17, the team won 14-4 over Marissa on Thursday. On Monday, SPPCS/St. James lost 19-8 at Freeburg.
The Valmeyer Junior High School baseball team is coached by Brad Juelfs.
The Pirates are off to a 1-1 start following the 11-1 win over SPPCS/St. James and an 11-9 loss to Steeleville on Friday.
Valmeyer’s Luke Blackwell got the pitching win and had 12 strikeouts in four innings against SPPCS/St. James. Ripken Voelker had two hits and two RBIs for the Pirates.
In the loss to Steeleville, Landon Roy and Jake Coats both collected two hits apiece for Valmeyer.
The Dupo Junior High School baseball squad is 0-2 to start its season following losses at Freeburg last Wednesday and at home to St. Joseph’s on Thursday.
Eighth graders for Dupo this fall are Carter McMannis, Caleb Gould, Teegan Hargrove and Clayton Elfrink.