Just returned from son's first college game, with the JV squad. Interesting experience and an eye opener about how his program works. My son played quite well. In nine plate appearances, he got 3 hits, including 2 singles and a triple and walked three times and drove in 2 runs. Put up some really good AB's. Hope he keeps it up and maybe works his way off the JV squad. But you never know -- his team is so stacked with outfielders, that's a tall order. Plus the 4 frosh outfielders can all really play.
It turns out that there are only 12 guys on the JV squad -- there were originally 13 but one was academically ineligible. They are all freshman position players. I hadn't realized that there are no dedicated JV pitchers. All pitchers are on the varsity and the coaches use JV games to allow a wide variety of pitchers to get work in. For example, the number 2 starter and the number 3 starter from the varsity -- both have been a bit shaky so far this season -- each started a game of the three game series. Several freshman relievers got some work in, but so did several upperclassmen. It seems like the JV games are also used to help determine the varsity pecking order among the pitchers.
At the same time you get the distinct impression that the relatively compact JV season functions sort of as an extended try out for frosh position players -- there is only one frosh position player on the varsity, and there are no upperclassmen on JV. The one freshman varsity position player is apparently a real stud.
I wonder if any other schools use their JV squads in quite this combination of ways.
At first, my son seemed a bit discouraged -- more discouraged than I have ever seen him be about baseball, even with all the lost time due to injuries, In fact, all of the JV guys seemed pretty much the same way. You can tell that these guys feel intense pressure to prove themselves in their relatively limited opportunities. They aren't at all sure where they stand. Next year there will be a new crop of frosh and a new crop of transfer to compete against -- 25 committed so far. And to make matters worse the all know that from last year's JV squad only 2 are on this year's varsity and none repeated JV. There were 12 or 13 JV players last year. 7 or 8 of them tried out this year which means 5 or 6 got cut. Talking to my son's roomies and parents in the stands, I'm not sure any of the JV players has felt this kind of pressure before. But still, they played with great intensity. It's evident that are lots of talented players on the small JV roster. Many of them might be on the travel squad in a less competitive, less cut throat environment. My son described the vibe as "figure it out, kid, if you can't do the job, we'll find someone who will."
But he was much happier by the end of the weekend than at the beginning of it. That's for sure. He seemed almost like his old self, actually.