BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Marquise Edwards is a junior at Mainland High School who has a 3.0 grade point average with math as his favorite subject.
Edwards also plays first base and pitcher for the Buccaneers baseball team where he is the only Black player. Ironically, the school has a large African-American population.
“Being the only Black player has been a good experience. I can tell my kids this someday,” responded Edwards “A lot of my friends joke about coming out and playing with me. I tell them just come and have fun.”
Edwards has been playing baseball most of his life.
“I love the game. It is my stress-free place to go and get things off my mind. I started playing back when my cousin Buster Davis was coaching T-ball and I wanted to be on his team and I’ve been playing every since,” stated Edwards.
He isn’t the star player but Edwards will be needed to help the team be successful.
“The season started slow, but it’s picking up for me. I’m just trying to do my part to help. I think that I am best at fielding and hitting despite my recent struggles at the plate. I need to work harder on the mound,” commented Edwards.
Stated Michael Burton, Mainland’s head coach, “Marquise has all the tools in the world. He has to learn how to mentally slow the game down and don’t let the stress get to him.’’
“As the only Black player, he has pressure to do well but he is a great kid who never talks back, has good grades, works hard and wants to win. His attitude is the best on the team. He shows that Black kids don’t have to be thugs, into rap music or popular culture,” echoed Travis Roland, assistant coach.
Roland is a former Buccaneer star football player who also stood out in baseball. He was a star football player at Bethune-Cookman University and now coaches Pop Warner youth football.
“I played baseball all my life. My family would tell you that it is my best sport. I played here under Coach Burton but I fell in love with football. I still love baseball. I have the experience which helps me help others,” said Roland.
“Travis is great. He played for me and he knows how to do things. He left us for a few years but now he is back,” added Burton.
Blacks and baseball
Edwards is also aware of the declining number of African-Americans playing the game.
“I think that kids don’t come out for it and don’t have the love for it like they used too. The sport needs to be advertised more in the Black community at all levels. It really needs to start at the youth level,” Edwards told the Daytona Times.
Roland also commented on Blacks and baseball.
“It’s tough coming from football. I coach a lot of Black kids that need father figures and positive male figures in their lives. We need to showcase the sport more in our community. This is the highest-paid sport and we are missing opportunities. We must expose kids to the game at an early age and provide the game to them competitively,” commented Roland.
Burton has tried to get Black athletes at the school from other sports, including football, basketball and track to play baseball.
“It’s really hard if they don’t play baseball. In high school, you specialize more in one sport and if you haven’t played baseball before or in a while it’s hard to pick up,” commented Burton.
Bucs looking for consistency
The Buccaneers stand at 9-7 on the 2013 season, which has been up and down so far. They also are in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
“Our starting pitching has been good enough to win, but we have struggled at the plate. Our opponents have taken advantage of our weaknesses,” added Burton.
Mainland is led by seniors Adam Rosenberg (.487 BA, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 6 SB) and Matt Moak (.333 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 wins, 2.68 ERA) while Austin Litke (.366 BA, 16 SB) has also helped out.
“Moak has pitched well. Adam is our best offensive player and Litke has played well in center field. We need for our other guys to step up, which they are capable of doing,” stated Burton.
Some of those other guys are Logan Brownell (.455 BA, 1 HR, 10 RBI), Tyler Brownell (.314 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI), Mike Johnson (.438 BA, 8 RBI) and Justin Duhaime (.345 BA, 1 HR). All will be needed if Mainland wants to contend for a district title and make a run at the post season.
“We have to put the ball in play, be more aggressive and play consistently,” responded Burton.
Prep Sports Seven Baseball
1. Spruce Creek (13-3), 2. University (13-4), 3. New Smyrna (10-3), 4. Trinity (7-5-1), 5. Taylor (12-4), 6. Father Lopez (8-4), 7. Seabreeze (7-6). Lurking: Mainland (9-7), DeLand (8-8), Deltona (8-8-1).
Note: Records and rankings are as of Tuesday (3-26) at noon.