JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
BURNET — In the showdown for first place in the District 8-3A baseball standings, a Liberty Hill player hit a ball to center field.
Burnet senior outfielder Jeremy Ayers ran forward to get under it. But as he was watching the ball, he realized he was going the wrong direction.
So he stopped and began running backward as the runner was turning from first base to go to second.
Just as the ball was about to be out of reach, Ayers leapt in the air and snagged it out of midair, taking away a double that prompted one group of fans to give a standing ovation and the other to shake their heads.
“That was great,” he said of the 4-0 win March 21. “We were going to get some good pitching and put it in play and see what happens. We went into that new stadium and put it on them.”
To those who know Ayers, who stands 5 feet 10 inches, the play was pretty easy for him: He’s also a triple jumper for the Bulldogs track-and-field team.
His best leap is 43-9, which he marked at the Daybreak Rotary Mustang Relays at Marble Falls on March 27.
“I was behind the board by about a foot,” he said. “If I had hit the board, I would have set the school record.”
To say Ayers has a solid work ethic is an understatement.
So that he can attend every baseball practice, Ayers is at the jumping pits at 7 a.m. before getting cleaned up to start his day. He arrives home at about 7 p.m.
He has a simple explanation for committing to both teams.
“I just have fun doing them,” he said. “I don’t know why I love (triple jumping) so much. I think when I first started, it clicked, it was natural. I’ve always been able to do it pretty easily.”
To be an effective jumper, he said, athletes have to have “a little bit of everything,” which includes good speed and good form, and jumpers can’t look at the board. So Ayers focuses on something farther away.
And he doesn’t count steps when he’s competing. He’ll do that to set a mark to know where to start running on the board.
“It comes natural,” he said. “I can tell when I’m getting there, and I just jump.”
When it comes to being an effective outfielder, Ayers identifies the same traits: good vision to track the ball and good speed to cover a lot of ground.
The son of James and Pamela (Jeanne) Ayers plans to major in accounting at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
The Bulldogs got an interim head baseball coach a few weeks into the season when Steven Shipley took over. But the players haven’t allowed that to define their season. Instead, they chose a new motto — Our Team, One Dream — and recommitted themselves to their goals. Among them is competing for a district title, winning several playoff series and reaching the Class 3A state tournament.
“I think we tried to block it out,” Ayers said. “We … began again and tried to do what we can do.”