Xenia Scouts bonding this summer

Xenia Scouts pitcher Joey Leavitt, shown here rounding third in a game against the Grand Lake Mariners, has been used as a pinch runner on occasion. He and fellow pitcher Dylan Donley have found a common bond.

XENIA — The Xenia Scouts have come together as a group this summer season, thanks in large part to their shared Christian faith.

“I think they’re all accountable of each other. We’ve all been given the ability to play. We’ve been given the ability to be a teammate here,” said Scouts manager Bubba Cates. “We just want to honor each other by the way that we play and honor God by the way that we play.”

Xenia, who plays at Grady’s Field in the Athletes in Action campus, currently sits a half a game back in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League standings behind the Southern Ohio Copperheads. Despite losing back-to-back games for the first time this season, the group’s chemistry is still strong.

Although expectations for this team were different for each player, they all seem to agree that they clicked faster than most teams.

“Coming into this summer, I didn’t really know what to expect,” said Pittsburg State University (Kansas) senior Dylan Donley. “Within the first week, I was blown away by the unity and family we have and the brotherhood in Christ we have. It’s truly something special to be around these dudes. It’s just a fun experience and it never gets old.”

Cypress College freshman Joey Leavitt said he wanted to gain confidence this summer.

“My goal for this summer was to gain a boldness to share my faith with my teammates and bring all that back to California and share with my teammates and friends and family,” he said.

Cates said that it has helped him form stronger relationships with players.

“It helps you to know each other. We’ve had an opportunity to share some things that are heartfelt,” he said. “One of the things that we do on a daily basis is share about a hero of your past, a highlight of your past and a heartache of your past. They’ve been open and honest in the things that they’ve said. It gets you in a place where you might know them a little deeper. We’ve been around these guys for about three weeks now, and I know some of these guys better than people I’ve spent a year with. That’s a neat thing.”

The chemistry has helped during game time, too. The Scouts are currently 12-6 on the season after getting off to one of the hottest starts in team history.

“We have played better than we are, and I think that’s because of the way the guys respond to each other,” said Cates.

Cates said his goal is to teach the players skills that go beyond baseball. He said the summer league isn’t just to help players stay sharp before they return to school

“We want them to be better baseball players. We want them to be better men. We want them to be better teammates,” he said. “I hope that the teams they go back to will mirror this team, because they do bring a lot of things with them that are special to a team. That’s our goal. We want them to go home and shine a little bit.”

Regardless of how the season ends, Donley said he’s already been heavily impacted.

“For me, back at my college, we don’t really have this on the team. It can be tough being one of the few back at college who is really seeking out the Lord. Being on a team where every other guy has discipleship and prays for each other has made me play the game differently. It’s made me grow as a person,” he said. “This has been a life-changing summer for me. We all have life-changing moments, and this has been a bigger one for me. I think our leaders here in Athletes in Action have shown great humility in teaching us.”

The Xenia Scouts enjoyed a rare two days off Thursday and today. On Saturday, they’ll open a home-and-home series with the Galion Graders. The two teams play at 7:05 p.m. at Heise Field in Galion, Saturday, before returning to Grady’s Field in Xenia for a 7:05 p.m. contest on Sunday.

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