Junior High Baseball

Baseball program expands to PBJHS with support of community
Posted on 04/04/2023
Jeff Baldwin and Dr. Amy Jackson.

The new Poplar Bluff Junior High Mules Baseball team hosted its first home game yesterday through a concerted community effort.

First Baptist Church recently agreed to allow the district usage of its adult softball field, the R-I Maintenance Department gave the diamond a major overhaul in short order, and Baldwin Automotive Group donated a storage shed for equipment.

“My maintainers did what they always do; they get the job done,” said Maintenance Supervisor Colt Sievers prior to the home opener. “They took a church softball field that had been used very infrequently for games for years and years, and had to bring it up to standard in record time. And quite honestly, come Monday, weather permitting, we’re gonna have one of the best fields for eighth grade baseball in Southeast Missouri, if not better.”

Last month, 20 dump truck loads of dirt were hauled in to level the ground, plus 10 loads of chat were spread around the perimeter; a yellow marker pipe was placed along the outfield fence, and new bases and a pitching mound were installed, according to Sievers. He thanked the city and park department for working with his crew and loaning out a power rake to extract rocks from the soil.

R-I Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill reported to the Board of Education that community members approached him last school year about expanding the baseball program to the Junior High level, and in July the school board unanimously approved the posting of the new coaching position. Junior High health instructor Zachary Randolph was hired as head coach in September and an assistant position has since been advertised.

PBHS marketing teacher Will Durden, the Mules Basketball coach, is credited for initiating discussions with Dave McCormack, pastor of discipleship and worship, at the church he attends. “The more they talked about it, the more they liked the idea of becoming the home of Junior High Baseball,” R-I Athletic Director Kent Keith said.

“We’re appreciative of First Baptist for stepping up and agreeing to help,” Keith stated. “It makes sense being across from Junior High so we don’t have to bus kids to practice; we just stop traffic for kids to cross the street. The church already allows use of their parking lot for our overflow traffic during football games.”

Baldwin Automotive Group donated $3,750 for a storage shed so Randolph no longer needs to tote equipment to his home garage. Additionally, co-owner Jeff Baldwin made a $3,000 donation to PBHS Mules Baseball, which will be used for the “future overall benefit of the program,” coach John David Pattillo said.

Baldwin, who noted he “has a passion for baseball,” is a repeat supporter of the school system, most recently having donated cars to be used for the Driver’s Ed program. R-I Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Amy Jackson, who remembers playing on the North Westwood Boulevard field as a teenager, commented: “The renovation will mean more opportunities for the whole community, not only our kids.”

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Cutline: With coach Zachary Randolph practicing with his team in the background, co-owner of Baldwin Automotive Group Jeff Baldwin presents R-I Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Amy Jackson with a check on Wednesday, March 29, while standing beside the new storage shed at First Baptist Church.

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