After the loss to graduation of 12 seniors off last year’s district championship ballclub, it’s easy to imagine practices for Sherman’s baseball team this spring resembling a cross between Little League and boot camp.
With little time to get ready for a fast-approaching district schedule, lots of fresh-faced Bearcats have been put through a crash course in Baseball 101. The early going has been bumpy, but head coach Jason Wright sees glimmers of hope.
“We’ve done a lot of work, and we’re going to go with what we’ve got,” Wright said. “We’re going to get better as the year goes on. We’ve gotten better from when we started (on Feb. 20), and we got better this week.
“It’s a learning process for some of them and a growing process, and we’re trying to be patient with them and teach them the game and how we want them to play. They’re catching on.”
Just a dozen days after opening their regular season, the Bearcats (4-6) begin their District 13-4A schedule tonight at Veterans Field at 7:30 p.m. against McKinney North.
The Bearcats still have one more tournament to play, the Art Blair Classic in Duncanville this weekend, before traveling to rival Denison a week from today for their second district contest.
The Cats finished 2-2 in the Sherman Invitational over the weekend, and Wright said he’ll accept that, although he was hoping for a 3-1 tournament mark.
Returning all-district juniors Case Rolen and Will Olson, as expected, are the linchpins of the team, with Rolen pitching and playing third base and Olson catching.
“We played really well Thursday (in a 12-2 win over North Lamar),” Wright said. “Case threw really well, (and) we hit the ball all over the park.”
But Wright has also been pleased by the emergence of sophomore outfielder Drew Rome, who was batting .450 on the year before going hitless on Saturday in a 3-1 win against Richardson.
“Drew has been outstanding,” Wright said. “He got a little taste of it last year in a tournament or two, then we moved him back down because he wasn’t quite ready. He has really been impressive.”
Also, junior outfielder George Dawson has been moved to the leadoff spot, and it’s helped set the table for the top of the lineup.
Two more juniors, Josh Logston and Cody Parks, give the Bearcats a solid No. 2 and No. 3 as starting pitchers behind Rolen. In each of their last outings, Logston suffered a tough-luck loss against McKinney on Friday, while Parks pitched a complete-game five-hitter for the win on Saturday.
“Every time (Logston) goes out on the mound, he gives us a chance to win,” Wright said. “And Cody Parks, man, what an outing. We’ll take those.”
The Bearcats are not opening the district slate with an easy opponent.
Wright sees McKinney North and Lovejoy as the two top teams to beat in 13-4A, and added that Royse City and Greenville will be in contention for playoff berths along with Sherman.
“Royse City did what we’re doing this year,” he said. “They bucked it up and played all those young kids last year. Greenville’s got some young kids that can play. I expect us to be in that mix somewhere.”