When 16-year-old Nate Ford died in an August traffic accident, he left behind grieving parents, siblings, relatives, friends and teammates. At Maricopa High School, the loss was immediately felt on the football team, for which he was a lineman and which was just starting its season at the time.
But the baseball diamond was really Ford’s athletic home. The Rams baseball team had a longer time to absorb the loss before its spring season began. Time did not lessen the personal loss to his friends on the team, but it did offer the opportunity to honor the senior catcher baseball-style.
Nate was made the team captain and is included on the Rams’ roster of seniors.
Friday will be Senior Night at Matt Huffman Field. The Rams Baseball Booster Club is making it the Nate Ford Community Night.
“Baseball was Nate’s passion,” Booster President Melanie Rapp said. “”He loved to be on the baseball field.”
Maricopa musician Laura Walsh will sing the National Anthem at 5:50 p.m., and the Rams will host Tempe High School at 6 p.m.
There will be ongoing raffles. Prizes include a 55-inch Toshiba flat screen TV, two-night stay at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass, Mommy and Me photo session, a $100 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift card, 50/50 and more.
The concession stand will be serving smoked ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs.
After the game, MHS will honor all of its baseball seniors. They include Kevin Borboa, Christian Garcia, Ivan Herrera, Chad Nachtweh and Tyler Rapp.
The Rams are 12-11 going into this week. Outside of tournaments, they are 10-4 and are 11th in the Division III power rankings.
Among the seniors (alphabetically), Borboa has played 13 games and batted .512. He has 21 hits, 11 runs batted in, four doubles and a triple.
Garcia, in 22 games, is batting .377 and his fielding percentage of .987 leads the team. He is also the team leader in walks with 12 and triples with three, and he is co-leader in total hits with 23, doubles with five and RBI with 19.
Herrera is batting .299 and is co-leader in hits with 23 and co-leader in runs scored with 17. He has three triples.
Nachtweh has struggled at the plate this season with a .196 averages, but two of his 10 hits were doubles. He also drew nine walks and had five RBI. His fielding percentage at first base is an impressive .962.
Rapp is leading the Rams’ pitching with an earned run average of 2.80. His 5-1 record is also the team’s best, and he has two saves. In 30 innings pitched, he has walked seven and struck out 27. Offensively, he is batting .281, with 14 runs scored, four doubles a triple and 10 walks. He leads the team in stolen bases with six.
Maricopa Rams Baseball Schedule
Higley W 10-7
Dobson L 8-4
Williams Field L 15-2
Poston Butte W 15-11
Fairfax W 3-2
Seton Catholic W 9-7
Marcos de Niza L 14-0
Youngker W 14-8
Basha L 11-6
Mesquite L 14-0
Dobson L 14-4
Perry L 16-1
St. Mary’s L 13-7
Walden Grove W 3-1
North W 6-3
Vista Grande W 3-2
Estrella Foothills W 5-3
Sahuarita L 8-3
Mountain View W 4-0
Poston Butte W 10-3
Fountain Hills L 5-2
Scottsdale Christian W 8-3
Casa Grande L 1-0
Sierra Linda Away 3:45 p.m.
Tempe Home 6 p.m.
McClintock Home 4 p.m.
Combs Away 3:45 p.m.