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Merkel catcher hoping to finish senior year with a bang

By Casey Keirnan, ckeirnan
Published On: Apr 15 2013 02:24:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 13 2013 06:18:59 PM CDT
MERKEL, Texas -

In high school sports the spotlight is often on the football team and its stars. Things aren't much different in the city of Merkel. Well, some players aren't just better suited for the baseball diamond, they seem to have been born to play there. That is the case with third-year starting catcher and lead-off hitter Jonathan Richardson.

Jonathan’s .368 batting average, 10 RBI's and 11 stolen bases are three of the tools he has used to propel his team to a late season battle for playoff glory.

"He's kind of a coach, an extension of myself,” head coach Marcus Malone told KTXS on Thursday, “he's done a great job in that avenue and I'm just really proud of him.”

“When I’m behind the plate, it’s like it’s my home,” Richardson told KTXS, “it just comes natural. It is just something that comes to me.”

It is a curious fact in sports that a standout and physical specimen in one discipline can marvel at the ability of an athlete so different from himself. Hunter Green is Merkel’s star tight-end and a master on the d-line. Though he is nearly twice his size, Green says that Richardson’s success does not surprise him.

“In baseball you don’t have to have a lot of size, anyone can play, it is mostly mental. There is not anything we couldn’t do without him out there. He’s got the brains.”

“In football he was more of a role player,” coach Malone said of his starting catcher. “But in baseball, it’s kind of his thing. He’s the lead-off hitter, been that for the last couple of years, he just tends to excel out here.”

Excell he does. Richardson's offensive stats might put runs on the board but the Badger's catcher says that team chemistry is the secret.

“Our starting ace, I grew up catching for him,” Richardson said of Green, ”he’s always been a pitcher and I’ve always been his catcher.”

“He knows exactly what I’m thinking,” Green said of his catcher, “which is always nice.”

With Eastland pulling away in district, there are four teams vying for those last few playoff spots. Merkel is tied for second with an all important game against Hawley coming up. If all goes well in these last four games, things could have a memorable ending for a player who was born to play baseball.