Yard Goats Baseball Club 17U has several Champaign Central players.
Five Maroons—seniors-to-be Chase Bartlett, Charlie Hobbs, Sam McArthur, TJ Pipkins, and Christopher Timmons—play on a trip team with athletes from around central Illinois.
Coach James Katsinas said, “I’ve known a lot of those kids since junior high ball at Edison (Middle School). Edison sent them to state. Central sectionals. They won Big 12 crowns and summer tournaments for us.
“It’s strange to have so many kids from one high school, but it’s worked out well. They’re great players, kids, and people.
Yard Goats 17U has local players from Centennial (Eli Schmitt), Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (Altin Nettleton), Mahomet-Seymour (Noah Butler and Alec Bergman), and St. Thomas More (Cole Kemper).
17U players come from all over.
Maroa-Forsyth has Connor Kelly, Zayn Giles, and Kaiden Maurer. Teutopolis’ Evan Waldhoff and Joey Niebrugge. Kankakee’s Clay Gadbois and Mattoon’s Owen Hawkins.
Katsinas remarked, “They’re hiking.” “It speaks volumes to how our organization has carried itself the last couple of years, and we’ve won a lot of games and we do things the right way and they want to be part of a winning baseball culture.”
Rising seniors comprise the 17U Yard Goats. The Champaign squad practices at Spalding Park and plays eight summer competitions.
“I would say there’s a good shot we’ll play at least a couple of games at Spalding this summer, which is nice because it’s kind of our home field,” Katsinas said.
Parkland College hosts two tournaments while Illinois State hosts two in Normal. The Yard Goats will visit Cincinnati from July 26-30 and Nashville from Wednesday through Sunday for a tournament.
The 17U team won the Eastern Illinois University Classic last Sunday, defeating CGB Organization 5-2.
McArthur (two hits, three RBI), Hawkins (two RBI), Hobbs (two hits), Pipkins (two hits), and Gadbois (one RBI) led the Yard Goats in the title game.
Bergman (no hits allowed in 2 2/3 innings), Kelly (three hits allowed in 2 1/3 innings), and Maurer (two strikeouts in one inning) led the Yard Goats.
The 3-year-old Yard Goats organization has 12U through 18U teams, including Katsinas’ 17U club.
Coleman Hawkins, a Unity junior-to-be, cheered on the 15U squad and pitcher Brady Parr on social media.
Once the travel season begins, younger players often join their older teammates.
Katsinas said the younger groups attend for an hour or two on Sundays or throughout the week, followed by the high schoolers. It’s great to watch a few youngsters practicing with these.