AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Bringing baseball back to Hodgetown was always the goal for Sod Poodles GM Tony Ensor. Today that vision came to life before his eyes as the Sod Dogs and Sod Squad took the field for their first team practices.
“These guys have a pep in their step. They’re obviously young kids anyways, being in college, but they’re so happy to be here and proud to be here,” said Ensor.
For many players, playing at Hodgetown could be considered a homecoming.
“It’s great we get to play at Hodgetown here in Amarillo,” said former Amarillo Sandie Max Marusak. “I’m staying at home and just being able to play with a bunch of guys from all over the country, I mean, it’s so much fun meeting a bunch of cool guys and we all share the same dream of playing baseball.”
Marusak suffered an injury last season while playing for Texas Tech and plans to use this summer on the Sod Squad to improve as a player and build lasting friendships. Marusak’s long-time friend and fellow former Sandie, Rhett Maynard is on the Sod Dogs roster this summer.
Maynard originally planned to play baseball in Alaska or Virginia before those opportunities were cancelled due to COVID-19.
“It all worked out because I’m here and family gets to watch and friends get to watch,” said Maynard.
There are also three players from the WTAMU baseball team that are looking forward to getting some games under their belt this summer.
WTAMU pitcher Mitchell Miller says, “It’s going to be cool to play in front of my college coaches and my college teammates and they can heckle me a little bit and trash talk, it’s going to be fun.”
Fortunately for all the players they’ll be learning from talented coaches who are also looking forward to learning from this new experience.
“I have to explain things a little bit more,” said Sod Dogs Coach Jimmy Johnson. “Yeah, they’re sharp, and they come from good programs and good coaching.”
Coaching the Sod Squad is Brett Wellman who is the son of Sod Poodles manager, Phillip Wellman.
“I’m excited to get back to baseball,” said Wellman. “It’s a great opportunity for these kids to get seen.”