Owls baseball players compete in annual Victory Field Challenge

Aiden Darlage had to make sure he put all of the orange Skittles in the same glass, while Treyton McCormick had to make sure the marble didn’t blow off of the spoon.

Darlage and McCormick were two of the 35 members of the Seymour High School baseball team who participated in the annual Victory Field Challenge last week.

Head coach Jeremy Richey changed some of the events the players participated in during the challenge this year.

The players were drafted by the eight coaches onto four- or five-member teams, and the players participated in the various events, like the Skittles event where Richey poured a large bag of Skittles on a table and Darlage had to put all of the orange candies in one glass while another team member had to put all of the red pieces in one glass and so on.

McCormick and all of the players placed a marble on a spoon and had to carry it from the end line at the soccer field up to a line in front of the goal and back without having the wind blow it off.

The players lifted weights one day, and on another day, they competed in a relay where each team had to run 30 lengths of the soccer field and each player had to run at least two lengths. McCormick and Mikey Wright said that is the most running they had done since the end of football season.

On another day, the players had to flip a tractor tire from the end line of the soccer field to midfield and back.

Richey said he and the coaches have been conducting the challenge every year since 2012.

“We changed some of the days just to mix it up a little bit. Some of the events are the same, but we don’t want to get stale with it to where we’re doing the same events on the same days every year,” he said.

“Monday night, we did all baseball activities. That was a little bit different because we’ve never incorporated stuff on the baseball field, but this year, it was a really good change for us,” he said. “The other nights, we’ve kind of thrown some physical things, and when they’re tired, we throw the mental things at them to get them to concentrate even when they’re a little bit tired. On Friday, they did a baseball history test.”

This is the fourth year for seniors Vince Wilson and Skyler Cockerham to participate in the challenge, counting their freshman year that was cut short by COVID-19.

“The last two years and this year, it has been a lot of fun,” Wilson said, noting the tire flip was not a lot of fun and took a lot of energy. “I’m hearing we’ve got this race Friday and it’s supposed to be a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it. It will be something new for us.

“Just the fact that building a community, building some rapport with all your brothers and getting that work in, getting uncomfortable is a necessity for success,” he said. “That is what this week is all about. It’s not so much about going through a bunch of hard stuff. It’s just building that connection with your brothers and teammates and learning to get uncomfortable when things are hard and persevering through it.”

Last spring, Wilson played some in left field and did some catching and said he expects to be playing those positions again this season. He feels confident with his defense at either position.

“I think we’ll have a lot of success coming this year,” he said. “I don’t want our guys to accept failure as an option. We’ve got a lot of good things coming this year.”

Cockerham said the challenge helps the players become more competitive and builds them up for the season during pressure moments.

“It helps us be stronger when we need to be stronger during games,” he said.

He said the tire flip was a little tough at times.

”You get a little tired and you start feeling it,” he said. “I felt lifting weights helped us and how we played on Monday. Every day is really better for us.”

Cockerham played a lot at third base last season and said he enjoys playing there.

“It’s a little struggle at times, but I feel like I’ve gotten a little better at it,” he said. “Hitting the ball in the gap is my goal, getting a lot of extra base hits and scoring a lot of runs. We want to get a sectional championship this year. That is the main goal. I feel we’re a really close group.”

Richey said the purpose of the challenge is to get all of the players, freshmen through seniors, together for some competition.

“It is individual competitions, it is team competitions, it’s getting them ready to compete and win, and when things aren’t going well, how are we going to deal with it?” he said. “Some of our bigger guys, the running stuff affects them, but in the weight room, they do better than some of the smaller guys. It’s all about pushing the wall for each individual, getting through that tired and battling and continuing on and just getting a little bit better every day with that.”

He said the challenge builds up a lot of enthusiasm.

“The good thing about it is when they get through the week, they’re tired, but they’ve been through some tough things and show up Monday ready to play baseball,” Richey said. “It’s one of the best moves we made in our program because it increased this so much because now, the coaches are all invested in their group and they’re motivating, and it’s really a really cool thing that you see the coaches get excited about it.”

The Owls will open their season March 28 at Trinity Lutheran.