XENIA — Like the summer baseball season itself, the Xenia Scouts baseball team is just as new.
Prior to Thursday night’s Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League home opener on Grady’s Field on the Athletes In Action campus, new Scouts manager Bubba Cates was still getting familiarized with his players’ names.
“I’ve seen a good work ethic with this bunch, just in the little work that we’ve done,” Cates said prior to Thursday’s game with the Lake Erie Monarchs. “We want them to pay attention to details, and things that would help to improve their careers, not just with the Scouts, but with their college teams as well. That’s one of the things we would like to do this summer, is to help them to become better players at their schools.”
The team’s website boasts a roster of 21 college baseball players from 17 colleges and universities, in all divisions of college ball. There are two players each from Union University (Tenn.), Washburn University (Kansas) and Hillsdale College (Mich.), and there are Division I players from Baylor (Texas), Xavier and South Florida as well.
“We’re excited. We had a good ballgame on Tuesday night in a win over the Cincinnati Spikes. We didn’t play our best ball, but we’ll get better. The other team was about like we were, where we were trying to get used to each other.
“This is new to me, too. But that’s what it’s going to be like around here for the first couple weeks or so, I guess,” Cates said with a chuckle. “We need some time to get used to each other and to figure out what the best role for each of us will be.”
Cates was the manager at the University of Tennessee-Martin for 15 years. He was a collegiate assistant coach and a high school baseball coach for several years before that. He got to talking with John Henschen of the Xenia Scouts during the amateur baseball winter meetings in Florida.
“I’ve known the Athletes In Action program for a while. My oldest son played ball for an AIA team. They had a one-year team in Florida, and he played on that team. And so I knew what the program was all about.
“They said they were interested in me, and I told them I would give them a call. I was surprised with how big the program is, so that was interesting to me, and something I still have to figure out.”
The Athletes In Action sports ministry, based in Xenia, has collegiate summer league baseball teams in Chugiak-Eagle River, Alaska, Rochester, N.Y., Xenia and the Dominican Republic.
Through seven innings of play in Thursday night’s game, the Scouts held a 4-0 lead and had limited the visiting Monarchs to two hits. Xenia heads north into Michigan to play the Monarchs for a 7:05 p.m. game tonight. They head over to Lima to play the Locos at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, before returning to Grady’s Field on the AIA campus to host Lima for a 4:05 p.m. Sunday contest.