7/9/05 – Daily News Record
Six Turks Heading to VBL All-Star Game By DUSTIN DOPIRAK Daily News-Record The six Harrisonburg Turks that will be playing in Sunday’s Valley League All-Star game won’t get another day off from baseball until the regular season ends. But they certainly aren’t complaining. "It will definitely be tiring, but I’m just happy to play every day," first baseman Jeff Carroll (Ohio State) said. "My approach is that playing baseball is much better than working for a living. It’s something I’d want to do and something I’d like to do. It will be exciting to be able to play every day." Each team in the league gets to select six players — three pitchers and three position players — to send to the all-star game at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night at Bridgeforth Stadium in Winchester, with the Northern Division and Southern Division of the league each fielding a team. Carroll will be joined in the Southern Division lineup by outfielders Scott Cousins and Lucas Delong, both from San Francisco University. The Turks will also send pitchers Sean Jarrett (Arizona), Stephen Ochs (Florida State) and Shawn Benson (Yavapai Junior College). Cousins leads the Valley League in batting average, posting a .396 mark, and also has a home run and seven RBIs. He also has a 3.00 earned run average and a 1-0 record. Carroll is hitting .319 with eight RBIs and Delong is batting .275 with a team-high two home runs and 14 RBIs. Ochs (1.67) and Benson (1.76) rank second and third respectively in earned run average. Benson is 3-1 with a team-leading 35 strikeouts and Ochs is 2-1 with 26 K’s. Jarrett is 2-0 in his three appearances with a 2.04 ERA. The players all said they were honored to be considered among the best of the NCAA-sanctioned Valley League, which is considered among the best summer collegiate leagues in the country. "It’s a big thing, you know," Caroll said. "It’s something that you keep in the back of your head, when you play in a league like this to try and make the all-star team. It’s definitely an honor getting picked to play with the best players in the league." Playing with players of that caliber means exposure. Valley League all-star games typically bring in a bevy of scouts for professional teams, because they can find the league’s best prospects and compare them against each other in one place. "That’s always good," Delong said. "Pro ball is pretty much all of our dreams. Any time you get a chance to show off your talent to someone that can get you to next level, that’s always good." The presence of the scouts puts more pressure on the managers for both teams. They have to try to find away to give each of the 30 players on their teams at least a chance to shine for the scouts in a nine-inning game. "You want every kid to have a chance to get exposure," said Covington manager Anthony Everman, who will be leading the Southern Division All-Stars. "You want them to at least get their name in the lineup and their name in those scouts’ notebooks. Then they get a clue who these kids are and they have a chance to follow them in their college seasons next year and for whatever summer league they play in next year." Everman doesn’t think he’ll have much of a problem getting all of the position players a chance. With just 15 position players, eight on the field at a time and a designated hitter in the lineup, he can basically split the game into halves and play each player four or five innings. Deciding on the pitching is a bit more of a problem. Everman has 15 pitchers to work with, but only nine innings in which to pitch them. He said he probably won’t thrown any pitcher who is scheduled to work the next day for his team, but he’ll have to not use at least six of them for each hurler to get an inning. "I might have to use a pitcher to get two outs or one out, or just to pitch to a couple batters," Everman said. The players said they are trying not to get too caught up in the presence of the scouts, believing that it won’t help their game to think about what the people watching could do for their careers. "No, you just go out there and try to play your own game and see what happens," Cousins said. "That’s the reason you made the team in first place, because you play your own game. Not because you tried to impress scouts." Instead, the players said, they would try to enjoy the atmosphere surrounding the game and the chance to get to know the rest of the league’s best players. They are also excited about the pregame festivities. The top five home run hitters in each division will compete in a home run derby competition at 5:30 p.m. After that, any all-star that wants to can run in the 60-yard dash competition. "Lucas and I have a side bet going about who’s going to win the 60," Cousins said. "The last time we ran it we tied. We both ran a 6.66. I don’t think we care if we get better times this time. It’s just a pride thing."