The Rim Country Middle School Mavericks are on schedule to field an inaugural seventh- and eighth-grade boys baseball team this spring. The team was approved Monday evening at the Payson Unified School District governing board meeting.
The announcement Tuesday morning at RCMS that the much-anticipated team had been approved brought shouts of joy from several of the prospective players.
Longhorn baseball coach Teddy Pettet and local businessman Maurice Sweet are among those who began laying the groundwork for the proposed team last spring. The school has never sponsored a baseball program because the White Mountain League, which RCMS is a member of, does not schedule the sport.
Without a school team, the only baseball option open for Rim teens was to participate in the Little League Senior Division.
Pettet anticipates the RCMS team, which will comprise both seventh and eighth graders, will play an independent schedule against opponents representing Globe, Miami, San Carlos, Winkleman and San Manuel. Pettet also is trying to schedule games against teams from schools in Buckeye and the Prescott area.
"We also hope to play in a couple of tournaments," he said.
Youngsters interested in becoming members of the Maverick team must participate in tryouts Feb. 22 and March 1. The dates, locations and details of those tryouts will be announced soon.
Pettet expects a good-sized turnout of prospective players, but says the roster will probably be pared to 15 to 18 teens.
The junior high/middle school season will begin in mid-March and continue through April.
Eric Santana and Maurice Sweet are slated to coach the team this season. Both have sons who will be trying out for the squad.
"We have commitments from others to coach in the future," Pettet said.
The chief stumbling block in fielding a baseball team at RCMS has always been finding the money necessary to sponsor another sport at the school. This winter, backers stepped forward and offered to help get the program up and running, Pettet said.
Pettet hopes the Maverick program will help the players master the fundamentals of the game. In turn, that will help the high school program as the Longhorns prepare to move to the 4A conference, from 3A, next school year.
"The middle school team can't do anything but help us," Pettet said.