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PREP BASEBALL 1994 / SMALL SCHOOLS : St. Margaret’s Powell Is Now the Role Model

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Joey Powell turned and shook his head in disgust as he watched the baseball roll farther away.

The St. Margaret’s High freshman had misplayed yet another line drive during a Tartan practice before the 1991 season. As if the neophyte outfielder didn’t have enough with which to cope.

He was insecure about his ability and wondered if he really had a shot at earning a position on the varsity, or whether he was being kept around only for practice purposes. The Tartans had a senior-dominated team, and Powell was trying hard not to attract attention.

That became harder each time a ball hit him in the face.

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“I was real nervous and I was trying too hard to have the guys accept me,” Powell said. “I was walking on eggshells and making stupid mistakes, so I just decided to start relaxing and let everything happen.”

Good move.

Today, Powell is a senior All-Academy League outfielder. A four-year starter, Powell now watches the other guys try to fit in--and helps.

“I’m really proud that I’ve started for four years,” Powell said. “There were a lot of times I doubted myself when I was a freshman, but I got through it.

“Things have become a little bit better every year.”

Powell’s increasing comfort zone has coincided with improved play.

Despite the self-doubts, he was selected all-league honorable mention as a freshman and the Tartans won the league title. He was a member of the second team as a junior and completed the trifecta last season when he was named to the first team.

Powell batted .340 with two home runs and 14 runs batted in. What’s more, St. Margaret’s won the league title for the second time in his three seasons.

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“He has a great, natural stroke,” Tartan Coach Mike Hays said. “You could see it when he was a freshman and it has improved every year.”

Powell, however, is at his best in the field.

He has played each outfield position and is equally adept at them all. Powell possesses the speed to track down balls in the gaps and has a strong arm.

“He’s been our leader in the outfield since his sophomore year,” Hays said. “He knows what every outfielder is supposed to do and he’s always making sure the other guys are set.

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“Everyone relies on him because they know he’ll make the correct play.”

Powell excels at relay throws. Hays said he always hits the cutoff man perfectly.

“We hold a lot of runners because his throws are right on the money,” Hays said. “There are at least a half a dozen times each year when he makes a play, a key play, that stops a runner from taking a base or scoring.”

Powell works with the younger outfielders throughout the season, stressing fundamentals. He also encourages them in the same manner he was once encouraged by veteran players.

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“I’ve had a lot more responsibility the last couple of seasons and I like that,” he said. “I always try to help teach the freshmen and sophomores the team game because that’s important.

“I always try to get everyone to catch the ball with both hands and get down in front of balls, stuff that seems real simple but that can really hurt you if you don’t do it right.”


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