Junior Legion players find their roles
Most coaches would not be very happy with an 0-5 start, but for Jeannette junior legion head man Marcus Clarkson, the winless start is not entirely unexpected, and not all that bad of a thing.
“I owed it to the guys on this team to give them a chance to win starting positions,” said Clarkson. “I am very close to knowing who my regular nine will be and really believe that what we have done in the early part of the season will help us later.”
Clarkson's approach early on has been to get as many players into as many games as possible to determine a starting lineup that will prove formidable moving forward.
Last week's games, three losses in five days, may not appear to have been productive, but Clarkson learned what he needed to learn about his team.
“I'll take the blame for us not winning any games while we went through this stretch,” said Clarkson. “I am very confident that we are going to be a competitive team.”
Jeannette showed signs of competitiveness during the 0-3 week, but not in their initial outing against Hempfield West, a 9-1 loss in which Jeannette did not pitch particularly well, field particularly well or hit the ball with authority.
The silver lining in the Hempfield loss was the relief appearance of Keith Borland, the first work from the bump Clarkson had seen from the right-hander.
“Kevin pitched very well,” said Clarkson, “He earned himself a start later in the week.”
Jeannette followed up the Hempfield loss with a loss at Ligonier Valley, 2-1. Ligonier threw a junk dealer and his off-speed approach baffled Jeannette's lineup to the tune of two hits. Jeannette saw 11 batters struck out in the game and wasted a very solid complete game from Jimmy Mallick.
Jeannette finished the week by picking up the bats, but putting down the gloves in an 11-7 loss to Greensburg.
Keith Borland got the aforementioned start and sparkled for three innings, but defensive lapses helped Greensburg pin 5 unearned runs on Jeannette in the fourth and the game was lost.
Centerfielder Chris Steffen and Kevin Borland, Keith's twin brother, each had two hits in the game. Jeannette plays today at PAL (Police Athletic League) and Saturday at home against Penn-Trafford.
Dave Moio is a freelance writer.