Friday, July 26, 2013

College Baseball: Yankees Draft Terps' Outfielder Charlie White

(All photos Eau Claire Express/Kayla Menzie)

Charlie White of the Maryland Terrapins is proving a standout in the Northwoods League for the Eau Claire Express, as written about in today's Baltimore Post-Examiner.

The Express provided a series of photos of White in action, highlighting his talents at the plate and on the basepaths. In addition to his offensive skills, the Terrapins' rising junior has 91 putouts in the outfield for Eau Claire. This past spring in College Park, White had 119 putouts in center and added five assists, while fielding at a .984 clip.

In early June, White was drafted by the New York Yankees.



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Books: The Power of One

(Photo / Ballantine Books)

Bryce Courtenay's novel The Power of One, first published in 1989, is approaching its 25th year in print. It is the story of a young boy in pre-World War II South Africa rising above a brutal childhood largely through the strength of his boxing.

Courtenay, who died in 2012, was born in South Africa and later moved to Australia where he wrote the novel, his first, at age 55. As a boy Courtenay also boxed, and in reading his biography it is clear that in no small way the book is colored by his own life experiences as a young man.

The novel's protagonist, known simply as Peekay, is tormented as a child by his Dutch boarding school classmates for his English heritage. The Dutch Afrikaners and British fought a pair of particularly vicious wars in the late 19th and early 20th century known as the Boer Wars. The lingering ill-will from those is visited heavily upon Peekay while spending his earliest years at the boarding school.

He eventually escapes the school when he is sent to live with his grandfather in the prison town of Barberton. While traveling via railroad to Barberton, Peekay encounters Hoppie Groenewald, the first Afrikaner to treat him kindly. Hoppie is also a champion of the South African railroad boxing world and in the book's most descriptively placed scene wins a railside boxing match under the South African night skies during an overnight layover.

Peekay decides then he is, and will be, a boxer and once in Barberton falls under the tutelage of Geel Piet, a black African who expertly teaches him the boxing game.

The backdrop of war, the nuances of its many well-developed characters, and the stellar boxing scenes carry the book. Unfortunately, like a fighter faltering in the late rounds, Courtenay's plot begins to head hard to the canvas in the closing chapters of the novel. The final scene seems stolen from a superhero comic book and out of sync with the tenor of the rest of the novel.

Given the book's close, any recommendation of it comes with an asterisk. Still, for all its other strengths, The Power of One remains a novel worthy of the rounds.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

College Baseball: Grays, Presstman Cardinals Advance Game on and off Field

(Photo / presstmancardinals.org)
The full version of this article appears in today's Baltimore Post-Examiner

This week the Ripken League makes its way toward the close of its 2013 regular season and Washington, D.C.'s Grays vie to improve upon last season's overall mark of 18-21. As they do, the Grays along with Baltimore's Presstman Cardinals make important efforts to advance African-American participation in the sport. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

College Baseball: Presstman's Austin is Home on the Hill

Bethune-Cookman Wildcat and Presstman Cardinal Michael Austin (photo / bcuathletics.com)

The Bethune-Cookman baseball website lists rising sophomore Michael Austin as an outfielder/right-handed pitcher. Given his performance on the mound this summer for the Ripken League's Presstman Cardinals, that position listing might get reversed next season.

The Sykesville, Maryland native notched three saves and struck out 30 for the Wildcats this spring as a freshman. Of Austin's 20 appearances, 17 were from the bullpen as he helped Bethune-Cookman advance to the MEAC finals

For Reggie Smith's Presstman club, Austin has moved into a starter's role and made the transition look easy. Austin has struck out 28 batters, second only in the Ripken League to teammate Jake Enterlin's 29. Overall he's 2-2 and has worked 24.2 innings. Four of his five appearances have been as a starter and Austin is holding opponents to a 1.82 era.

The 6'3" righty's best effort to date was a seven inning, 4-2 win over the Gaithersburg Giants on June 23. In that game he allowed just three hits, while holding Gaithersburg scoreless and striking out eight.

"Michael is doing a tremendous job for us. Due to the numbers he's put up the first half of the season, I'm convinced pitching is his future," said Smith.

The Cardinals (8-14) next play Friday on the road against Vienna (9-10). Game time is scheduled for 7 PM.

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...