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Wed, Sept. 23

Summer ball program at Williams High School brings out boys of summer
Williams High school coaches volunteer time to put on summer ball program

Pace Mortensen warms up before a Williams High School summer ball practice. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Pace Mortensen warms up before a Williams High School summer ball practice. Ryan Williams/WGCN

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - According to Little League statistics, fewer than 10 percent of all youth baseball players will play high school baseball, but Johnny Hatcher, Aaron Anderson and Rocque Montoya are trying to change that. Hatcher, Anderson and Montoya are volunteering their time to provide a middle school-high school summer ball program in Williams.

"We want to give these kids a chance to improve their skills and experience varsity level play," Hatcher said.

Anderson and Montoya are coaching a Little League junior's baseball team comprised of 13-14 year-olds. On alternating days they help Hatcher coach a high school team. With transportation provided by Williams High School, the three plan to play games with Kingman, Bagdad, Lee Williams and Kearney-Ray.

"We're hoping to get these kids up to speed on their fundamentals," Hatcher said. "There has been a gap between Little League and high school and many kids are showing up with enthusiasm but a lack of basic skills."

Hatcher said practices would include working on basic catching and throwing skills while adding some time in the batting cage.

A new pitching machine is helping the players with their offensive skills.

"We purchased this new machine in the spring, but the support poles couldn't sustain the net with the wet weather we've had," Anderson said. "We finally have it up and running and it should help our batting a lot."

Hatcher and Anderson have coached at Williams High School for years. Hatcher said Williams has had a strong baseball program for the 10 years he has been here, but last year was a disappointment.

"It was one of our worst seasons," Hatcher said. "We had no leadership from the upperclassmen. We needed those older kids to go in there and show the younger ones how to get it done."

Hatcher hopes to teach the players how to be committed. He doesn't want them to just show up on time, he wants them to be there early and be dedicated.

"I want to show them that to be a strong player you have to make sacrifices," Hatcher said. "You can't be a good ball player when you spend most of your time on an iPad."

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