By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
It’s time to break out the sticks in Coal City.
The Jeff Treadway Memorial Wooden Bat Tournament will be held tonight and Saturday when the host team Independence, welcomes visitors Bluefield, Greenbrier West and James Monroe to Joe Goddard Field.
The annual event — named after the late Independence standout, who was tragically killed in the Ghent Little General Explosion in Jan. 2007 — will begin tonight with a battle between Greenbrier West and Bluefield at 5:30 p.m. The Patriots will take on James Monroe 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game.
While Independence is the favorite on paper to win the tournament, second-year head coach Scotty Cuthbert insists it won’t be that easy.
“Everybody still has to play,” he said. “(The wooden bats) change the game a little bit — makes small ball and bunting a priority. It usually speeds the game up.”
Cuthbert’s Patriots have picked up where they left off last year. Independence appeared in the state tournament, losing a heartbreaker to Herbert Hoover in the first round.
This year, Independence has remained a force in Class AA, going 14-4, with two of those loses coming from schools outside of the Mountain State. Of the 14 victories, four have come against schools that will be competing in the tournament, beating Greenbrier West 10-0 and 10-7, James Monroe 13-0 and Bluefield 17-5.
Despite the offensive firepower the Patriots have shown this season, Cuthbert isn’t taking any chances of suffering a letdown with the switch from metal to wooden bats this weekend.
“(Thursday) we hit with wooden bats,” he said. “We’ll take batting practice with them before the games.”
In the event of rain today, Cuthbert said the tournament will resume on Saturday, with the two scheduled games being moved and a championship game being played later in the evening.
For the community surrounding Independence, the weekend isn’t just about the game, but honoring the memory of Treadway. The 2003 graduate was a four-year member of the Patriots baseball team, helping lead Independence to the state tournament in his senior season.
Jeff’s parents, Mike and Betty Treadway, will present the winning team with a trophy, while Jeff’s older brother, Mike Jr., will throw out the first pitch.
As in years past, proceeds from the tournament will go toward a scholarship given out to an Independence student in Treadway’s name.
“Jeff was a big part of this school, and it’s nice to give back to this community,” Cuthbert said.
Saturday’s consolation game will be played at noon, with the championship game being played 30 minutes following the conclusion.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
By J. Daniel Rollins
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