Carlee Houston high-fives her coach.
Carlee Houston high-fives her coach.
Teamwork pays. Pershing County’s 4-H coordinator Colby Burke recently collaborated with high school coaches Jared Jensen and Jesse Canchola to bring the Major League University to Lovelock. 

As a result, over 80 Lovelock girls and boys had a productive and fun midsummer weekend.

The MLU baseball and softball clinics took place at two of Lovelock’s most scenic spots – the high school baseball field and McDougal Park. 

Many of the four through eight-year-olds at McDougal picked up a bat for the first time.

“The goal with the younger group was to make softball and baseball fun as well as teaching the game,” said Jensen. “The kids learned some great skills from knowledgeable coaches.”

At McDougal, Jordan McKinney, the Hollands (Amanda, Terry, Erica, Alyssa and Scott), Phil Moulton, Tony Nelson, Lola Montes and Tiffany Jensen mentored about 30 of Lovelock’s youngest ballplayers. Brianne Poffenroth and Jayce Montes gave support and equipment. 

Meanwhile, more than 50 teens and pre-teens met with Ray McIntire and Austin Byler on the high school ballfield. The MLU coaches focused on offense, defense and the mental side of the game, including arm care.

Even the weather cooperated. The heatwave subsided, and no more than one or two raindrops fell all weekend. 

MLU offered a free workshop for the Lovelock coaches, including parents coaching their children in the backyard. Almost a dozen locals attended. The younger group’s weekend clinic was also free

Each of the older players paid $50 for more focused instruction.

Similar camps in Reno run from $150 to $300. In Lovelock, multiple 4-H and high school fundraisers cut costs. Donations from Coeur Rochester and Cooney Farms lowered the price tag further.

“Without their help, we would not have been able to bring in guys like Austin (Byler) and Ray (McIntire) with experience at the highest levels of baseball,” said Jensen. 

In 2018, Austin Byler retired from professional baseball and co-founded the Arizona-based MLU. Byler was a three-time all-conference honoree as a first and third baseman at Nevada from 2012-15. Ray McIntire is a former D1 player and infielder. Now they travel the country teaching players and coaches. 

Saturday evening, volunteers taught softball skills to nearly 20 nine through 19-year-olds. 

After a full morning at McDougal Park, the Holland family (Leah, Alyssa, Erica, Scott, Phil and Terry) and Tony Nelson coached at the PCHS softball fields for three hours. 

They covered base running, infield and outfield with a focus on technique and body position.

The weekend ended with a cool-down at Lovelock’s community pool. Everyone went home with a souvenir tee-shirt and a big smile.