Jesse Hall’s journey to the Champion City began at the batting cage.
In late May, Hall didn’t have a place to play baseball this summer.
The middle infielder was taking batting practice with former high school teammate Dallen Leach, who had recently signed with the Champion City Kings. Leach asked Hall if he’d be interested in joining him in Springfield, Ohio.
“I didn’t have anywhere to play and told me about (the Kings) and I said ‘That sounds good’,” Hall said. “It was pretty cool.”
A few days later, the Tallahassee, Fla. native was headed to the Champion City where he has become a staple in the Kings lineup, leading the team in appearances with 37. He’s currently hitting .248 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs.
“I love it here,” Hall said. “The community is great. It’s a really cool place to play with a lot of support.”
He was reunited with another familiar face — Lincoln High School teammate and Kings catcher Bo Seccombe.
“I’ve always kept in touch (with Seccombe), but I didn’t even know he was playing here,” Hall said.
Hall was a junior in high school when he last played with Seccombe, who is a year older than him. Leach was also set to play for the Kings, but has missed a majority of the season due to an injury.
Seccombe leads the Kings with 10 home runs, while Hall is third with 10. They each hit two in a come-from-behind victory over Danville on July 4.
“It obviously motivates me when he hits one,” Hall said. “We haven’t played together in awhile. It’s really cool to see.”
As a sophomore at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia, Ala., Hall hit .317 with nine home runs, 46 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. Kings manager John Jeanes saw Hall play last spring at the Alabama State Junior College Tournament and was quick to bring him to Springfield to fill an open position in the infield.
“I really liked him as a player,” Jeanes said. “He’s been awesome, a joy to be around. He’s a smaller guy who can hit for some power. He can get the barrel head out there and do some damage. He’s been a great addition.”
Hall will play at D-I Troy University of the Sun Belt Conference next spring.
“I’m really excited and ready to play,” Hall said. “It’s a great league. I’m pumped.”
Tough division: The Kings are seeking both their first overall winning record and playoff berth in the team’s six-year history. They’ll need a big run in the final 20 games of the season to get back into the competitive Prospect League East Division race.
Through Friday’s games, the Kings were 19-19 overall, 7.5 games back of first-place Danville (26-11). The first- and second-place teams in each division at the end of the regular season will advance to play in a one-game Division Championship game — meaning the Kings will have to jump the Chillicothe Paints (25-14), Terre Haute Rex (22-17) and the Lafayette Aviators (20-19) to advance to the playoffs.
The postseason was shortened this season to accommodate more off days and an All-Star break, which will be held July 22 and 23 in Normal, Ill.
Schedule: The Kings have an off-day on Monday before returning home for five straight games, including one against the Terre Haute (July 16) and four more against Lafayette (July 17 through 20).
Champion City will have just two homestands after the all-star break — a four-game set from July 27 through July 30 and a two-game set on Aug. 4 and 5.