River City Raiders pitcher Blake Towe, facing, meets with his teammates at the start of an inning.
More baseball for middle school children
River City Raiders offer Decatur players another opportunity
By Paul Stackhouse
Middle school children in Decatur had another chance to play baseball this spring.
In addition to the youth leagues that the city hosts, Decatur had the River City Raiders compete against other teams with middle school players.
Even though the River City Raiders — the first middle school baseball team in recent memory formed in Decatur — participate in a Huntsville League, they leave no doubt in people’s minds that the team represents Decatur.
“Pioneering the future of baseball in Decatur by starting a middle school baseball team is what it’s all about,” said Craig Seabrook, manager of the Raiders. “The main objective of getting us involved in this league was to help Decatur High School baseball and give seventh- and eighth-graders a different forum for playing school teams that they will see in high school. The next goal was to play all of the players selected.”
The team plays in the Huntsville Spring Club Baseball League. By rule, the high school coaches cannot participate directly in the program.
Games are not made up when they have to be canceled for whatever reason. Also, there are no extra innings for games that are deadlocked after regulation play. The Raiders finished the season at 8-4-2.
Until now, the league had no teams from outside of the Huntsville area. When approached about the possibility of having a Decatur team come in, the league was open to the suggestion but required that the Raiders play some of their games in Decatur.
Seabrook said he discussed this with Decatur Parks and Recreation and Decatur High baseball coach Mike Burns.
“Both were totally supportive,” Seabrook said. “In an October meeting in Huntsville, our team was invited to participate in the league. Out of 18 games this season, 12 were played at Decatur High School.”
Seabrook said the middle school league is not sanctioned by the state.
“This is not an officially sanctioned baseball league by the Alabama High School Athletic Association, and therefore we were not able to use the name of our middle school,” Seabrook said. “We named the team River City Raiders to show association with Decatur and made sure that the school system was OK with our choice. There are dads willing to be coaches already lining up to coach this team in the future.
“We consider 2007 to be the inaugural season for Decatur in this league. The feedback from the Huntsville Spring Club Baseball League has been positive and they are planning to continue to allow us to participate.”
Other teams in the River City Raiders division include Challenger Middle School, Hampton Cove Middle School, Huntsville Middle School, Mountain Gap Middle School and Whitesburg Middle School.
The league does not worry about who finishes where in the final standing. They just want the children to receive some quality playing time before moving up in the ranks and possibly playing at the high school level.
It should be noted that players on the River City squad are not placed automatically on the Decatur High team. That involves a separate set of tryouts once the players reach high school.
Seventh-grade players for the River City Raiders included Brad Ellis, Will Laughlin, Peyton Littrell and Ryan Marthaler.
Eighth-grade players included Max Beasley, William Bryan, Reid Cauthen, Ford Clemons, Blaine Denton, Justin Emberton, Trey Hargett, Jason Holt, Colt Iverson, Ben Seabrook, Max Smith, Garrett Teague and Blake Towe.
John Ellis and Russ Laughlin served as assistant coaches.
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