June 5, 2009
Tyler Aldridge is on the road back to 100 percent.
Even though arm problems prevented the Caledonia High School baseball standout from having an ideal senior season, Aldridge still was recognized as one of the area''s top players.
On Saturday, Aldridge will take the field one more time as a high schooler when he and six other area players participate in the Mississippi High School Activities Association''s Crossroads Diamond Club All-Star games at Trustmark Park in Pearl.
Caledonia High baseball coach Sam Adams will coach the Class 4A/5A North team that will feature Aldridge and Starkville High''s Jayson Keel. That game will be at 6 p.m.
West Lowndes High''s DQ Farmer, East Webster''s Christopher Gordon and Reggie O''Briant, and Amory''s Kyle Montet and Stephen Otey will play for the North 1A/2A/3A team. That game will be at 1 p.m.
For Aldridge, who battled a strained ligament in his right arm all season, the all-star game is a chance to cap a successful high school career with some of the state''s most talented players.
"I was surprised (I was selected) because I wasn''t able to play to my ability all of the season, so it was kind of a shocker to get a chance to play in one of these," Aldridge said. "I am going out there and having fun."
Aldridge, who played in another all-star game last weekend, hit .392 with three home runs, 21 RBIs, nine doubles, and two triples.
He entered the season 25 career victories as a pitcher, but experienced stiffness in his pitching arm in the team''s season opener against Mooreville.
Aldridge said everything was fine until the third inning when he threw a cut fastball and his arm started to tense up and to get sore and tight. He left the game as pitcher and moved to shortstop but couldn''t make the throws to first base and had to be moved to designated hitter.
Aldridge saw much of his action this season at first base. He said not being able to pitch affected his play.
Adams also saw the arm problems affect Aldridge, but he said Aldridge still managed to contribute.
"He is a hard worker and the kids looked up to him as a leader not only on the field but in the classroom and in the community," Adams said. "He is going to be successful in whatever he does."
Aldridge has signed a scholarship to play baseball at East Mississippi Community College in the fall. He admits he is a little nervous to see how his arm will feel in the fall after missing a season''s worth of pitching.
But Aldridge also feels confident he will be able to compete for playing time at third base, a position he last played last season for the Amory Cardinals, a Senior American Legion team.
Aldridge said he continues to work through a training and rehabilitation program that he hopes will help him get his arm back to 100 percent for the start of fall practice.
"I am excited for this fall," Aldridge said. "I am going to have other guys competing for the spot I am. Hopefully they will push me and I will push them."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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