McMullen, Marshall Mavs seeking first district win
March 17, 2017 at 4 a.m.
It's spring break for Marshall High School and on the wall of the baseball team's locker room hangs a bracket. It's not a college basketball bracket. It's a bracket for the Mavericks' ping pong tournament.
"This is serious stuff, serious, serious," Marshall head coach Derek Dunaway jokes.
"We'll make anything a competition, whether it's throwing a ball against a wall, playing ping pong, going outside and seeing who can hit a golf ball the furthest, anything," Marshall second baseman Jake McMullen said. "I've never been on a team with as much team chemistry as we have right now. It's insane."
Dunaway said activities like this help build, "team chemistry, guys competing and hand-eye coordination."
The Mavericks are currently 10-6 overall and 0-1 in District 16-5A play as they'll look for their first district win tonight in Sulphur Springs against the Wildcats.
"We expect a hard fought game," McMullen said. "Everybody is fighting for a win. It's going to be tough. There are no automatic wins in district."
The fact they're winless in district doesn't bother McMullen.
"Like coach said, he doesn't remember the first time we won a district opener but we've always had success with seasons ever since," McMullen added. "I feel pretty confident that we'll pick it up."
The senior added he believes Marshall's non-district experience will help them earn some district wins.
"It's helped with our hitting, our timing, getting the swing of things and even defensively, just being comfortable out there," he said.
As a senior, McMullen is well aware that teammates look to him for leadership.
"I want to be remembered as that guy who worked hard all the time behind the scenes and as a role model with my work ethic more than being an outspoken leader," McMullen said.
"He's just been steady at second base for three straight years," Dunaway said of McMullen. "He has been our leadoff guy for three years. He's going to get in the box and do his job. If he gets a pitch that he can get early in the county, he's going to jump on it and hit it hard. He's one of the best guys I've ever seen with two strikes. He's going to foul pitches off that are close and wait for one that he can hit again. He plays great defense. He's a very quiet kid and he leads by example."
So far this season, McMullen has a batting average of .313, with one double, two triples, eight RBI and 20 runs. He's been walked 10 times and hit by a pitch twice.
McMullen suspects reality of it being his last year to hit on the Mavs' final game of the season but he's trying not to think about that. He's also hopeful of playing ball at the next level.
"I've been accepted into SAU (Southern Arkansas University) already and I'm going to try to walking on the baseball team," McMullen said.
Until then, he's got his senior year of high school to finish, and a serious ping pong tournament.
Tonight's game in Sulphur Springs is slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch.