The Mansfield Summit baseball team is looking to pick up where it left off in 2016 and will need the likes of players like second baseman Payne Rodgers to do so.
Rodgers was an all-district selection on last year’s district championship team that defeated Dallas Kimball in the bi-district round of the playoffs before coming up short against Hallsville at area.
Coach Chris Peacock said that Rodgers is a gritty player who brings a lot to the table.
“Payne plays the game extremely hard,” Peacock said. “He is always hustling around and is always positive with his teammates. He is a very aggressive hitter with good pop in his bat. He is an A-plus defender with a good arm. He is a well-rounded player that is always looking for ways to improve his game.”
Summit has struggled early on, but Rodgers he is not too concerned about it as district gets underway.
“We got off to an unexpected slow start in tournament play,” Rodgers said. “We didn’t necessarily play badly, we just didn’t play well enough to win in many of those first games. We definitely should have found a way to win more games. However, I don’t think anyone on the team was too concerned about our slump, because we knew Coach was mixing around our lineup, trying to find the best nine-man combination.
“And I think because of this, our team got better after every game we played. Also, all of us believe in the talent that we have on this team and we believe that we can have a really great season and make a deep run in the playoffs.”
Rodgers said he tries to provide leadership on the team and be a good role model for the younger players, and said his objective for this season is to repeat upon last year’s success.
“My goal for this season is to defend our district championship we won last year as well as make a deep run into the playoffs,” Rodgers said. “I don’t know if I really have an individual goal, I just want to help our team win in any way possible.”
Rodgers is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the varsity choir at Summit High and said to make the playoffs and have a good run, the team needs to do one thing.
“We just need to play the baseball we know we are capable of,” Rodgers said. “We know that there is a target on our backs, but we just have to stay focused on playing as hard as we can and finding ways to win. Coach has done a great job focusing our mindset on only the game in front of us and the next opportunity to get closer to our goal.”