Waldron's Blake Owens happy to keep playing baseball for Junior Sportsman

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Blake Owens is happy to be playing baseball again.

Like other high school baseball players in the spring of 2020, Owens felt like the season ended too soon because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, when summer rolled around, Owens missed an opportunity to play for one of the three Fort Smith American Legion teams.

"I didn't think they were going to have a summer team because of COVID," Owens said, "dnd when I found out that they did, it was already a week into their season."

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Not to miss two summers in a row, Owens made it to the tryouts in May and earned a spot on coach Shea Hamilton's Junior Sportsman squad.

The other two Sportsman squads include Fort Smith (AAA) and Forsgren (AA).

Owens admitted he didn't do very well during the batting portion of the tryouts but is happy to get more time playing the sport he loves.

Owens plays first base and will help out pitching in spots, which he hopes will turn into opportunities to play at the college level.

"We really didn't get a lot of looks this past year because the Bulldogs didn't do very well," Owens said. "There's a lot of good players who come through the Sportsman and have gone on to play at colleges like Connors or Carl Albert." 

Owens is currently batting .333 through five games and has pitched five innings of relief in four of them. Owens has struck out nine of the 23 batters he's faced with four walks, three hits and one earned run.

The team returns to Hunts Park on June 16 to host a doubleheader with the Fort

The Junior Sportsman comprises players from 10 different towns in the Arkansas River Valley. Owens, who is from Waldron, is one of five players who travel more than 45 minutes from Hunts Park in Fort Smith, where the Junior Sportsman practice and host visiting teams.

Owens is used to the road trips, though, as he grew up playing travel baseball.

"There really wasn't a little league," Owens said. "So some others and my dad decided to make a travel ball team with kids my age. Baseball has just been a part of our family for years and we just wanted to keep going."

Despite hoping his time with the Sportsman will help during his senior year on the diamond, Owens also plays football for Waldron and is looking to play basketball as well.

"My cousin (Drew Owens) and I had a bet that if I convinced him to play baseball his sophomore year, I would play basketball," he said. "I haven't played basketball since I was younger, but I'm looking forward to that challenge."