University City

Next year should be better for Vance JV, even if not a big winner

On the surface there was not much to cheer about. One win. Miserable defeats and close losses.

Vance has a JV baseball team for the first time in years. The varsity team has a lot to look forward to.

Still, the team probably will not win more games than they lose next year.

But they could.

"I have been playing baseball since I was 5 years old," said sophomore first baseman and pitcher Mark Stevens. "I love the game and would rather play than go home."

Yariel Juarez loves the game, too.

He is a senior and went out for the team for the first time this year. Juarez had played in the outfield in the past, but wasn't ready to come out until this past year.

"Mark was the one who really convinced me to come out," said Juarez. "I have played in the past, but he had convinced me to come out this year."

"I am glad I did, but it wasn't an easy year,"

Stevens was named team MVP at the May 23 awards banquet and, along with a few returning players and the up coming JV team, will be the future of the Cougars

"I tried to set a good example this year and it is hard to keep losing," said Stevens. "I hope that next year we can have some players come up who are ready to play. It is possible to get better and I hope to show them next year what it takes to be a good team."

Juarez, who said he learned how to be more of a team player and have patience with people, was named the most improved player at the team awards banquet.

"I got a lot better as the season wore on," said Juarez. "It is hard to keep losing, but all you can do is go out there each day and work hard and try to get better."

He is hopeful that next year the Cougars will be better and thinks with the leadership of Stevens and other players they can achieve it.

This season, it was tough as both players tried to maintain a positive attitude as the losses mounted and team morale sank.

"It is hard," said Juarez. "Half of us show up at practice each day and work hard and half of us were not on the same page. It was tough, but it says something about the people who stuck with it."

Stevens thinks that next year can be different. He is excited to lead the Cougars.

"I definitely intend to play and want to have a hand in changing the (culture)," said Stevens. "I would like people to get more active but I know that will come. I want to have a positive attitude and hope that we never give up."

Stevens will return and many good, developing players will join him.

If they follow their MVP, next year should be better than this season.

Andrew Stark is a freelance writer for University City News. Have a story idea for Andrew? Email him at