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Hopkins has some other ideas. Different. More constructive.

“Tell the other coach, ‘We’ll take the win, you take the loss. Now, you want my help? We’ve got 30 or 45 minutes left. Let’s do some drills, let’s practice some scenarios,’” he said.

“The young coach would come away with respect for the older coach and have a basis for mentoring. The kids would learn how to do a hook slide, or get rid of the hitch in his giddy-up and have more control. The umpires would get to teach, which would make them feel a whole lot better than being part of a lopsided game. Fans get to listen and watch and learn, and be part of something that is really good.”

But, for a wayward program like Samuell, this might not be a one-time thing.

“So? If it’s 24 games and 24 clinics, you’d like to think they’re getting better, as coaches and players,” Hopkins said. “Maybe they’ll go tell their friends, ‘This guy taught me how to throw a slider,’ and a few more kids come out. Eventually, they can build a program.”

Hopkins recalled how special-needs players sometimes get into a basketball game and make a layup or score a touchdown in football. There was that college softball game three years ago where two players carried an opponent around the bases after she blew out a knee during a home-run trot.

He doesn’t recall any such heartwarming story in baseball.

“Playing high school sports is supposed to be a good experience. Kids have fun, play for their team, wear their school colors, learn time-management skills, respect for authority, all of that,” he said. “We didn’t see any of that in this contest. Everyone involved failed those kids. All the adults let those kids down. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. We just need to do better and be better. And we have an opportunity do it.”

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Two days after losing to Lake Highlands, Samuell lost again, 11-1.

The day after that, the Spartans won.

The score was 9-5. Like their first victory, it came against a team from a smaller classification with a program even more downtrodden than theirs.

Samuell has lost all seven games since then, the closest being 8-2. The Spartans were shut out in the other six, giving up at least 13 runs each time.

It can’t ever get much worse because district officials responded to the blowout by modifying their mercy rule. Games can now be called if there’s a 15-run margin after three innings. And, coaches are discovering the national rule book provision to end a game by a mutual agreement.

“It’s something that we as coaches need to be aware of,” said Brian Jones, head of the North Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association and the coach at Dallas Jesuit, another school in the district. “We don’t want anything like that to ever happen again.”

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