Second-year junior varsity coach AJ Brumbelow, who played on the Yellow Jackets from 1998-2001, led the younger group to a 10-0 start and the attention of Rockmart fans.
“It’s very important for the team’s morale to get a start like that,” Brumbelow said. “It builds confidence and lets them know that they can play anybody.”
While their perfect streak came to an end with a tough 9-2 loss to Woodland at home on April 7, the group presented their brand of baseball and gave varsity coach Courtney Hammock a reason to praise them.
“I’m real proud of them,” Hammock said. “They play to win. It’s like they’ve got the kid in them and that’s what I like to see. When they are down they can come back and play hard.”
Brumbelow said that he warned the players of the dangers that are associated with coming out of the gates on such a tear.
“You try to keep them positive and grounded at the same time,” Brumbelow said. “Just because your 10-0 doesn’t mean teams can’t sneak up on you.”
The winning streak, which included everything from blowouts to final-inning rallies, was second to the experience and development of the players according to Brumbelow.
“Whether we had started out 10-0 or 0-10, as long as the kids were working hard and putting forth the effort and hustle then I’m doing my job,” He said. “You make them realize that they have a job to do and they can have fun doing that job.”
Brumbelow had coached youth teams since graduating from Rockmart High School in 2001, including little league and senior league, before he was asked to help with the baseball program before last season.
“At first, I was expecting just to help out a little bit,” Brumbelow said of beginning to work with then head coach Steve Bohn. “But as the year went on I started making line-ups and making decisions (with the junior varsity).”
Before he knew it, Brumbelow was a part of high school baseball once again and excited to take on something new while doing it.
“Baseball has always been a passion for me,” he said. “It’s not a job. It’s a privilege.”
Pitcher Cole Hulsey, the brother of current varsity player Dylan Hulsey, as well as Zack Thompson and Alex Baldwin have given the junior Jackets solid outings this season with Ladarion Morris and Tanner Noland providing a big presence in the field.
Brumbelow said that while the loss to Woodland was unfortunate he was still happy with how they hit the ball and played as a team.
“As good as it is to win in JV, as long as the kids are developing and becoming better baseball players, that’s my goal,” he said.
The Rockmart junior varsity team completed their season last Wednesday.