LaFayette’s 10U brings the love of baseball back to LaFayette

Published 11:08 am Friday, June 7, 2024

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Baseball has been a foreign concept in LaFayette for more than a decade, but that changed this year as LaFayette’s recreation baseball program has seen a ton of growth. 

LaFayette’s 10 and under baseball team competed in the district tournament in Beauregard this week and saw more success than could have been expected. The team won its first two matchups before finally losing a game to Valley on Wednesday. 

The baseball program in LaFayette is brand new. The city and recreation department attempted to start the program last year, but there were not even enough kids signed up to fill one all-star team. This season, the participation took off. 

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“We’re a relatively new team,” LaFayette 10U coach Jamey Pollard said. “LaFayette hasn’t had a rec baseball team since about 2009. Last year we kind of tried to get started, and it was a few kids. Not really enough to make all-stars. This year we grew from one 10U team and one 8U team to three 8U’s, two 10U’s and a 12U.” 

The 10U team has now become the pride of LaFayette. Pollard leads the way as the head coach with Ryan Miller and Jamarcus Walton serving as assistant coaches. 

Chandley Floyd, Bryce Williams, Jaxon Prather, Cooper Turner, Paris Bledsoe, Kellan Heath, Roper Pollard, Bryson Miller, Carter Robinson, Taylor Henderson, Kole Thorn and Tristan Gorton make up the roster. 

The all-star team has been led by its pitching staff, but Pollard has seen the offense surge during the district tournament in Beauregard. 

“As far as our all-star team, pitching has got us a long way,” Pollard said. “Surprisingly, coming into this tournament, the first two games we hit really well.” 

Unlike the city of LaFayette, Pollard is far from new to the sport of baseball. Pollard started out coaching his oldest son Wrangler in little league and now coaches his son Roper. Pollard’s love for the sport has continued to grow as he helped coach teams each year. 

Roper started playing baseball as soon as he could, starting t-ball at just three years old. Pollard has spent the years helping Roper become a better baseball player, and has loved every second of doing it. 

“It’s been a joy,” Pollard said. “I’ve enjoyed watching him grow in a sport that he loves to play. I think it’s the greatest thing when they achieve something. Whether it’s a strikeout, a good hit or a good play, just seeing that joy on their face when they come off the field. I think that’s what it’s all about.” 

Pollard and the 10U team have had a successful season on the field, but more importantly, they have helped to represent their city. 

LaFayette and Valley High School’s consolidation is looming, and Pollard believes little league teams like the 10U team are important to keep representing the city they’re from. 

“I think with this merger, it’s very important, not just for baseball but for all sports in LaFayette,” Pollard said. “That’s kind of what you have left to represent the LaFayette name once all that goes through. I think it’s very important that we grow it. It’s very important that the community gets behind it.” 

The community did not come out in droves to support LaFayette’s baseball program at first. However, social media and all the activities LaFayette had at the baseball game drove support. Now, a LaFayette rec baseball game comes with a lot of fanfare. 

“We’re relatively new, there was not enough awareness of it,” Pollard said. “As people started seeing the parking lot fill up, the lights staying on, the food trucks showing up, people started showing up. Next thing you know we’re having 400-600 people at the ballgames.” 

Most of the kids on the team have played baseball before, but several of them only have a year or two of experience. Still, the team has continually improved as the year has progressed. 

Even with a team full of players new to the game, Pollard has his mind set on winning. He also knows that at this level winning is not the most important thing. 

“Everybody wants to win,” Pollard said. “If you’re not playing to win, why are you there? If we’re better on day 50 than we were on day two, then we’ve done something… If at the end of the season, kids are already talking about not being able to wait until next year, then you’ve done your job.”