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March 16, 2014

Broncho freshman stand out in win

CENTRAL HIGH — Central High coach Jeff Jones knew his team was going to have to lean on its underclassmen this year, but starting a freshman pitcher and catcher tandem was still a little foreign.

It turned out to be the right choice as the Bronchos (3-2) won their second round game 6-3 versus Velma-Alma in the Sterling tournament on Friday. Saturday’s consolation final versus Cyril was rained out, but Jones still thought the tournament was a success for his team.

“We can sit back and say we’re two runs away from being 5-0,” Jones said. “That’s just kind of the way the ball bounces sometimes, and in reality I guess you’re not supposed to beat older kids with pups.”

These aren’t everyday freshman, though, and Jones knows that. That battery combo consisted of his two best performers so far this season, catcher Keeton Sallee and pitcher Dylan Jones. They lead the team in batting average with Jones hitting .500 and Sallee hitting .385 (tied with senior Kade Taylor).

Jones pitched a complete game in his first start of the season. He allowed just one run and only walked two while delivering five strikeouts. It was a big stepping stone for the freshman.

“I was just trying to calm my nerves as much as I could,” Jones said. “Just having to take that pressure on in a game where if you win, you move on, if you lose you go home, it was a high pressure situation.”

Jones added three hits to his impressive start, including his first extra-base hit of the season, a double. He is second on the team in RBIs and just like pitching said hitting is all about calming everything down.

“Just staying focused, staying relaxed and going up there not thinking about anything,” Jones said. “People screw up the most when they think about what they’re trying to do.”

Sallee followed up his fast start with a 2-4 night versus the Comets. He also drove in two runs and leads the team with six RBIs this season. With so much talent, coach Jones just wants the young players to keep getting more experience.

They got a good amount of experience playing bigger schools during the summer. Jones said he set the summer schedule up to face tough opponents. He knew when he took the job at Central High, that this batch of underclassmen could produce great things.

“The junior high team only lost one game last year,” Jones said. “Someone asked me if this was a surprise. I said, ‘No. We’ve just been waiting.’”

Central High’s next game will be at the Union City Festival on March 20. The winner of the Bronchos home game versus Cyril on April 4 will get the consolation trophy from the Sterling tournament.

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