An injured throwing shoulder has proved to be a minor inconvenience this summer for left-hander Alek Murphy of Columbus.
The Wayne State recruit hasn't been pitching, but he's still able to play the outfield. He puts his glove on his right hand, catches the ball and then quickly flips the glove off for a right-handed throw back to the infield.
“He does it so quickly that it's become pretty effortless for him,” coach Nick Handley said. “He has a passion to play the game and he's done a great job for us.”
It's a situation similar to the one experienced in the spring by sophomore Jakson Reetz of Norris, who continued to play and helped the Titans reach the state tournament.
Murphy, who is batting .410, experienced soreness in his left arm during the spring varsity season. An MRI revealed a problem with his labrum, but surgery wasn't recommended.
“He's a senior and he still wanted to play this summer,” Handley said. “He's taken a tough situation and made the most of it.”
The coach added that Murphy has gotten so adept at making the quick switch from catch to throw that opposing teams respect the center fielder's arm.
“Sometimes a runner won't try to tag up and score from third base,” Handley said. “That's how quick Alek is.”
After recent wins over American Legion teams from Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Southeast, Columbus is 23-18. Handley said the team is still holding out hope that Murphy might be available to pitch during next week's area tournament.
“He's about 80 percent right now,” the coach said. “We're not going to rush him back, so we'll just have to wait and see on that.”
Deeb Mustangs stay hot even in scorching temperatures
The recent 100-degree temperatures haven't slowed down the Deeb Mustangs (Millard North), which has been one of the hottest teams in town.
Playing 11 games in eight days, the Mustangs won them all to boost their record to 20-11. That stretch included a championship-winning effort in a 10-team wood bat tournament in Salina, Kan.
“We started the season 2-8 so we've turned it around pretty well,” coach Dave Cork said. “We just seem to be clicking a lot better, and not even that heat could slow us down.”
Cork said his squad was fortunate to have played two games of the Salina tournament late in the day — one started at 9 p.m. and another at 10:15. That was a welcome break from one of the hottest summers in recent memory.
“The main thing we tell our guys is to stay hydrated,” he said. “Don't wait until you feel thirsty.”
The Mustangs will compete this week in the Elkhorn Wood Bat tournament before turning their sights on the upcoming area tournament.
“I tell our kids that if they can hit with a wood bat, they can hit with anything,'' Cork said. “Some of our guys have actually been using the wood bats over the aluminum.''
Jayson Jewell memorial game scheduled to be played Saturday
The seventh annual Jayson Jewell Memorial baseball game between P.I. Midwest (Omaha Creighton Prep) and DiGiorgio's Sportswear (Omaha Gross) will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at Prep.
The game is played in honor of Jewell, a former Prep baseball played who was killed in a 2006 car accident. There will be free food and drinks for players and fans and a $500 scholarship that is named in honor of Jewell will be presented to a P.I. Midwest senior player.
“It's an important game for our team and I think the Gross players take it pretty seriously, too,'' P.I. Midwest coach Pat Mooney said. “It's a great way to honor Jayson.''
Getting it done on the diamond
Some recent top Legion performances:
Ben Peters, DiGiorgio's: He picked up his sixth pitching win of the summer as the team from Omaha Gross defeated Anoka, Minn.
Matt Waldron, KB Building Services: The freshman threw a five-hitter and struck out 10 to lead the team from Omaha Westside past Weatherguard Systems (Omaha Roncalli).
Cameron Connors, South Omaha Post 331: He had three hits and drove in three as the team from Omaha South defeated Wahoo.
Connor Miller, Roof Tech: Miller had five RBIs as the squad from Millard West defeated a team from Palatine, Ill.
Matt Evans and Shayne Kelly, Deeb Mustangs: Each tossed a complete game as the team from Millard North swept a doubleheader from Union Bank (Lincoln Pius X).
Kris Johnson, Medicine Man Pharmacy: Johnson went the distance and struck out nine as the squad from Omaha Skutt defeated a team from Cherry Creek, Colo.
Brady Darnell, Wahoo Reds: He struck out nine in 6 13 innings in a win over Ralston Post 373.
JJ Benes, Pinnacle Bank: He had four RBIs as the team from Papillion-La Vista defeated the North Vikings.
— Mike Patterson