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Monday, May 4, 2015: Coaches discuss Friday's 47-0 baseball game

   Leading off today: Not surprisingly, Friday's 47-0 high school baseball score continued to garner attention throughout the weekend. Scott Kindberg, sports editor at The Post-Journal in Jamestown said he was getting inquiries from as far away as Florida on Saturday.

   The paper's Matt Spielman wrote a strong follow-up piece on Maple Grove's lopsided win over Panama, with excellent cooperation from both coaches to help explain what took place.

   The most crucial thing to note: Both coaches were on board with playing the game to its conclusion. "The losing coach always has the option of calling the game," Section 6 baseball coordinator Jim Conley told the paper, "but usually it's, 'I'm not going to give up, we've gotta get better.'"

   And that's exactly the philosophy of Rick DeKay, who coached West Valley to nearly 400 wins and now is in his second winless season at Panama.

   "In 33 years at West Valley, I never had to use the mercy rule," DeKay told the paper. "Last year (at Panama) I used it several times. I told the kids this year that we weren't going to do that. I have a lot of seventh- and eighth-graders on varsity. They need to get some playing time."

   For those wondering, Maple Grove coach Jordan Rambacher was limited in ways he could limit the damage short of humiliating tactics like asking his batters to hit from the opposite side of the plate or intentionally strike out. He only has a 10-man roster, and though playing several of his kids out of position didn't affect the offense, it kept their heads in the game even after the score reached 17-0 in the second inning.

   "There was good sportsmanship throughout the game," Rambacher said. "Both teams' kids were respecting each other. The kids were still talking and still playing baseball. I was very impressed with that."

   Panama has taken some other severe beatings this spring, including scores of 32-0 and 24-0. With two seventh-graders and five eighth-graders on the roster because the school lacks JV and modified squads, growing pains are a given.

   "All of the coaches in my division know we aren't using the mercy rule," DeKay said. "It wasn't embarrassing. Maple Grove didn't run up the score. We've had other games where we've been beaten badly. It's a difficult situation here at Panama, but we have turned it around to some degree.

   "Friday was just an awkward situation. It was our fourth game of the week -- most teams don't do well with that. We were down to two kids that don't really pitch. It was a unique situation."

   At the other extreme ... Whereas Maple Grove and Panama barely have enough varsity-ready players, Cornwall has a roster of big-league proportions. Thirteen seniors and 11 juniors tried out this year, and coaches Tom Fanning and Guy Maisonet kept them all.

   "We have a lot of kids who can come in big spots and help us out," senior catcher Charles Manzari told The Times Herald-Record. "It's also good because if we didn't take this many kids, a lot of the juniors wouldn't have the varsity experience for next year and it's good for them to be a part of the team this year, get the experience for next year and hopefully carry on the winning next year."

   Said pitcher Mike Reilly: "Believe it or not, having a lot of kids is actually really useful. We can have people catching bullpens and people hitting ground balls. Everybody's getting work at the same time."

   With only so many at-bats and innings on the mound available in games, Cornwall has scheduled weekend scrimmages against competition from New York City to work more of the bench into live pitching situations.

   "It's a unique bunch of kids," Maisonet said. "It wouldn't happen on any normal team. They all kind of accept their roles."

  
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   More from Friday's meeting: Several papers have started reporting more in depth on Friday's approval by the NYSPHSAA Executive Committee of a rule restricting the amount of full-contact practice time allowed in football practices beginning this fall.

   As I started mentioning close to two years ago, safety and a sense of added caution -- New York already adopted a concussion protocol in 2012 -- can explain most of the motivation for passage of the new rule. But as I've also noted, the NYSPHSAA was also being more than a little prescient. By getting out in front of the issue at a time when only a handful of state organizations have enacted similar rules, the NYSPHSAA has also gotten out in front of the lawyers -- whether they be of the courthouse or legislative variety.

   Last week, The Times Union reported that officials of many state high school organizations across the country are keeping a close eye on the Illinois lawsuit, in which the sanctioning body is being sued by a former player who's asking for court oversight of the way head injuries are managed. The suit seeks to make staffing by medical professionals with training in head injuries mandatory for all games as well as available for practices.

   The potential cost burden has plenty of administrators concerned, with the paper citing a statistic that about a third of New York high schools don't even have access to athletic trainers, let alone on-call doctors.

   "You look at the medical monitoring that the lawsuit is asking for, and the sheer expense that could be placed upon schools and school districts really concerns me," Robert Zayas, executive director of the NYSPHSAA, told the paper. "At what point can schools no longer afford to have football?"

   Advisory: I'll be making final edits to the New York State Sportswriters Association's all-state girls basketball team this afternoon. We will be unveiling the selections Wednesday morning.

   People are watching: The Salmon River girls lacrosse team is being followed around this spring by a documentary crew, and the Shamrocks are certainly putting on quite the show with six wins in their first seven games.

   The Flatbush Pictures staff has been chronicling games and practices as well as some activities during the school day for an as-yet unspecified project. The company is best known for the high school documentary "We Could Be King," the story of two rival Philadelphia high schools who were forced to merge, The Daily Times reported.

   "They contacted us in the winter of this year," AD Shawn Miller told the paper. "It's been a great thing."


  
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