Parents angered Thomas Stone not fielding baseball team
School may have JV team if it can get enough players
The news that Thomas Stone High School would not be able to field a varsity baseball team this season came out of left field for some parents.
“To me, it came out of nowhere. It’s like a sucker punch,” said Michael Fenwick Sr., whose son has played baseball at Stone for the previous three years. “He’s disappointed, I’m disappointed ... because a baseball scholarship would help him a whole awful lot, college money-wise.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that Stone, a school with three state championships, three runner-up finishes, six appearances in the state semifinals and 15 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championships, did not have enough players to field a varsity baseball team.
“They were having workouts, and then they were told they don’t have enough players,” Fenwick said.
The school might be able to field a junior varsity baseball team. This week, workouts were held, and eight players attended. Eleven would be the minimum needed for a JV team, said coach James Landis.
“We’re going to continue to hold workouts and practices for at least another week and see if more come out,” Landis said.
The news may have come too late, however, said parent Stacy Pritchett. Pritchett, the mother of a sophomore, said many student athletes have already made commitments to other sports.
“If it hadn’t happened so late, they would have had enough
players to play,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett spoke at the school board’s March 21 meeting. She said parents and students were informed the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rules did not permit a school to have a JV team if it did not have a varsity team.
“We were given that information, but it was incorrect; it was corrected a week ago,” said Charles County Athletic Director Steve Lee.
Pritchett said had they known they could have a JV team earlier, there would have been a better chance of getting more players to turn out, and a better chance of rebuilding the program.
“We’ve been asking since last year to have a JV team,” Pritchett said. “My thoughts are that the Thomas Stone team has sacrificed this year, but now, at least, other schools know they can field a JV team [without having a varsity team].”
Rudy Carrico Jr., an assistant baseball coach at Stone, told the school board March 21 that beginning players should not start at the varsity level.
“If you’ve never played baseball whatsoever, it’s a dangerous sport to get out there and play with a metal bat against experienced varsity players,” Carrico said. “JV is where they need to start.”
Carrico said part of the reason Stone could not field a varsity baseball team is due to the redistricting that occurred with the opening of St. Charles High School.
“The approval of St. Charles High School has had serious negative consequences on Thomas Stone student-athletes,” Carrico said. “Thomas Stone High School has been hollowed out.”
Enrollment at Stone declined 20 percent following the redistricting.
The school system also instituted new eligibility requirements for athletic and extracurricular activities in the middle of the 2015-16 school year, increasing the minimum grade requirement from a 2.0 Grade Point Average to a 2.25 GPA, with no “F” grade, and no more than 4.5 absences in a quarter, with a few exceptions.
Shortly after it was announced that Stone would not have a varsity team, it was also announced that St. Charles would use the Stone field for home games, but Lee said an arrangement has been worked out with Charles County Parks Department whereby St. Charles can use one of the fields at Laurel Springs Regional Park.
“That makes me feel better, because I feel it’s very difficult for the boys when they have to see someone else playing on their field,” Pritchett said.
Lee said the St. Charles baseball and softball fields were designed too close together, with the fields aligned wrong.
“We can’t play baseball and softball at the same time because foul balls go into each other’s fields,” Lee said.
Fenwick said forming a junior varsity team now wouldn’t help his son, who has played varsity baseball for three years, and was looking to get exposure to apply for a baseball scholarship.
“He’s disappointed. He won’t say it to me, but it’s demoralizing, because he was really excited, because he really thought he’d get the footage for the baseball team to get a scholarship,” Fenwick said. “The sport that he loves, it’s been taken away from him.”
Pritchett said she is looking into private schools and paying out-of-county tuition for a public school where her son will have a better shot of playing baseball.
“Athletics is just as important as academics for helping to grow the entire student,” Pritchett said.