THOMASVILLE — On Thursday afternoon and into the evening, the Thomas County Central middle school and high school baseball teams took to the field for the first time in the offseason for the batting practice. This BP was the culmination of their Hit-a-Thon fundraiser, which saw members of the community donate to support individual players in a batting competition. The fundraiser helped the program raise $18,555 to go toward game balls, travel expenses, jerseys, game fees and more.
Players stepped into the cage in groups of four, sending balls sky high in an effort to out do one another.
“They’re having fun so far. They’re up here chirping a little bit, getting pumped up,” said TCC head baseball coach Ryan Strickland. “This is the first time we’ve been able to get out here. So, we can get out here and finish our offseason work out on the field and watch the ball fly a little bit. They’re seeing a lot of their work pay off.”
For Strickland, while the BP is fun and guys are having a good time, he sees real value in an event like this for the middle school players. The ball park was packed with eager fans buying Central ball caps and chowing down on concessions as they watched the Yellow Jackets hit. The young middle schoolers had never hit in front of a crowd like that before and they were just a bit nervous.
“These middle school kids out here were shaking. They’ve never done anything like this with this many people sitting in the stands watching them hit BP,” Strickland said. “Those last two groups, I’m hearing kids ‘oh, my back knee is shaking.’ All eyes are on them so, it’s a little tense for them.”
Overall, the Hit-a-Thon was a success. Players got valuable at-bats on the field, fans were able to come out and watch the boys and the fundraiser became a bonding experience for the players.
Thomas County Central’s middle school team will begin its season with a double-header against Brooks County on January 20. The JV club will get started the following month with a double-header against Lee County on February 14 and, finally, after a scrimmage with Thomasville on the sixth, Varsity will take on Colquitt County on February 12.