Ridge Moss has been steady Eddie for the Ducks over the last few years but this year is a little different.
Moss, now a senior, is helping lead a group of very young talent for Toutle Lake — a program which has made several deep runs in the playoffs over the past 10 seasons Jerry Johnson has managed the Ducks. While Toutle has remained competitive, this season has also become a year for growth.
“It’s pretty cool to have the eighth graders out, because our numbers were below 25,” Johnson said. “Being able to have those guys out to help field a team. We had a guy switch from track to baseball, and that was a nice surprise for us too because he’s come out and started for us.
“It’s a fun year of learning and coaching with these guys. Because in years past, they’d come out ready to go,” Johnson said. “Now I’ve got eighth graders, which are not quite ready. So we’re having to cultivate more.”
The Ducks record isn’t nearly what it has been at the midway point of the last several seasons, though it’s not indicative of their season. Close losses have plagued the group, but those games have also inspired confidence in the team’s future.
“It’s unfortunate that, it seems like game in and game out, we have a blow up inning where (Moss) doesn’t get the support that he needs to have and I feel bad for him for that,” Johnson said. “Same with our young guy (Tuesday), Jackson Cox. One bad inning and we’re not producing enough offensively against quality pitching.”
Johnson continued to illustrate the larger point: “We’re still real young and learning simple things that come with experience, and we’ll get there.”
The signs come with every game. Whether it’s a standout at-bat or extreme hustle, the Ducks have proven the ability is present.
It’s just going to take a little more grooming and practice before it translates into the standings.