Pinson Valley sophomore calls high school baseball ‘a dream’
By Gary Lloyd
Baker Hodge is a sophomore on a team of 14 seniors, but he has the most experience of them all.
Hodge was the Pinson Valley bat boy when he was in grade school in 2005 and 2006, when his brother Jordan was pitching, when Desmond Jennings wore a jersey that read “Indians” instead of “Tampa Bay Rays.”
Hodge said his older brother got him started as the team’s bat boy, something that helped him learn the game better. He said he takes after his brother, though some of Jennings’ talent “rubbed off” on him.
“I don’t have speed (like Jennings),” Hodge said through a grin.
This is Hodge’s first year playing varsity baseball. Pinson Valley is 11-6 against Alabama teams and is ranked No. 8 in Class 5A. He hasn’t played as much as most of the seniors, but he’s gotten on the field because of injuries. He’s made the most of his time on the field, and it doesn’t bother him that he’s a sophomore on a senior-laden squad.
“I just want to win,” said the switch-hitting Hodge.
Hodge said he’s played baseball since he was 3 or 4, noting that starting young has helped him make it to the varsity team as a sophomore.
“It’s a dream,” he said.
In a game at Clay-Chalkville earlier this month, Hodge, starting at third base, finished 1-for-2 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 10-6 win. The RBI was a sacrifice fly, the single a bunt in which Hodge was called safe after diving toward the bag head first.
“I just try to make every play,” Hodge said. “I just try to play scrappy and get the job done.”
First-year Pinson Valley head coach Shane Chappell also called Hodge scrappy. He said he plays every position on the infield except for first base. He competes with the older players.
“He looks like he belongs,” Chappell said. “He doesn’t shy away from anything.”
He doesn’t even shy away when teammates tease him about his 5-foot-4 stature.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” he said.
Chappell said Hodge has done a great job in his time on the field
. His role changes as older players overcome injuries. He’s a good defender but struggles with consistency, Chappell said. That will change with more experience.
“He’s going to be a good one,” Chappell said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.