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March 23, 2007

Baseball season preview

by Andrew Kung, Online Sports Editor and Copy Editor
The upcoming season will not be an easy one for the Blair baseball team, as inexperience and injuries have already begun taking their toll on the program. Most of the team has limited varsity experience, and injuries have robbed them of some players who do. "There's not a lot of varsity success returning," said head coach John MacDonald.

With limited talent and experience, the squad looks to rely on a few key players. The team's focal point will be multifaceted senior captain Zach Hall, who plays both infield and outfield and can pitch as well. Hall will start the season opener in center field before taking the mound in game two. Towering first baseman Adam Kopp, who batted .377 last season, will be a valuable batters in the lineup along with Hall.

Armed with a roster that lacks definitive power and speed, MacDonald has no set batting order, choosing to go with whoever is performing well at the time. "[The lineup] will be based on who's hot," he said. "It could be completely different from game to game." He would like to play to the strengths of Hall and Kopp though, with Hall setting the tables in the two-hole and Kopp having RBI opportunities in the five spot.

According the MacDonald, the team must stay away from mistakes if they hope to be successful, citing errors and walked batters in particular as pertinent issues. "We have to do the little things right," he said.

The defense will be anchored by a strong infield, led by seniors Keith Ingram (third base, shortstop) and Chris Kidwell (shortstop). Hall will be an asset as well at second base and in the outfield, and Kopp plays a solid first base.

Pitching will be one of the team's weaker spots, and with a roster loaded with inexperience and inconsistency, the team looks to use three to four pitchers a game, as the predominantly right-handed staff often has difficulty throwing multiple pitches for consistent strikes, with each pitcher lasting only a few innings apiece. Pivotal members of the staff include seniors Matt Ludington, who returns to the team after sitting out last season with a broken arm, and Gabe Sartor, a consistent left-hander out of the bullpen. "The key is if I can get some consistent pitching out of some first time pitchers," said MacDonald.

Thus far, the team has been decimated by injuries, with MacDonald calling them "more than we've ever had." Thus far, senior Robert Riker as well as junior Dylan Baird are among those who have yet to take the field, while many others are playing at less than 100 percent. Still, MacDonald maintains that injuries are not an excuse for lackluster play, instead considering them opportunities for other players to step up and contribute.

MacDonald reiterated that he will be satisfied with .500 after a 9-12 season last year. The schedule is somewhat favorable early on, but takes a difficult turn after spring break, including a brutal eight game stretch that MacDonald describes as especially tough. Still, if the pieces come together, avoiding careless mistakes and hitting well in the clutch, the team has a chance to recapture some of its past glory. Blair softball looks geared for an incredible 2007 season. Blair baseball may very well be headed the other way.


The baseball team opened the season Mar. 21 at Blair against Blake.



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  • (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 11:10 PM
    Great article, besides that last sentence. That was simply uncalled for.
  • Zachary Hall (View Email) on March 23, 2007 at 11:32 PM
    All of this information is factually correct, and I realize we are now 0-2, but after seeing our performances the last 2 games, I'm optomistic. This article mentions pitching, well I think our pitching was overall pretty decent. In 2 games we've had 4 pitchers throw and all 4 (myself included) have thrown strikes, and given the defense chances to make the plays. I got hit pretty hard a few times tonight but in terms of how I was throwing and how my location was I wasn't too upset at my outing, and the other 3 pitchers have held other teams to very few runs.

    We've made a few errors on defense, and this article mentions the fact that we are pretty shallow because of injuries, but all in all we haven't made a whole lot of mistakes, and as the new players settle into where they're playing hopefully they'll become more comfortable there.

    Finally the bats, and I've been very happy with how well we hit, especially today. The Rockville pitchers weren't anything special, but we consistently were getting key hits, and 5 runs in a game isn't terrible.

    If we can continue to hit the ball, pitch effectively, and make plays on defense, the wins will start to come. We have some tough games ahead of us, but there's no reason to give up. I expect for this team to be able to play with any team in the county, and if we play well I believe we can beat any team in the county on any given day. Against Blake, we played pretty solid defense, we just had a little trouble hitting their pitcher, who was a pretty decent pitcher. Against Rockville we hit the ball pretty well, we just made a few too many errors on defense, I hung a few too many pitches, and they hit the ball hard. They were a very good hitting team. But if we can put it all together and start to play well, I'd hate to be the team scheduled to play us.
  • Song on March 25, 2007 at 9:22 PM
    well put, hall
  • John Macdonald (View Email) on March 28, 2007 at 1:28 PM
    As the head baseball coach, I will be following the reporting that covers our team and I have no problem with this article. I think it was fair and accurate including the last sentence.
    I also agree with Zach. It's no wonder that he is the team captain as he keeps the game in perspective and is very positive about our circumstances.
    I write this as we are 0-3, but we haven't played too poorly considering the make-shift line-ups that have been on the field. We have yet to be beaten by the mercy rule and we've been close in every game up to a point. Our pitching has been OK - especially in the first two games as Zach noted. Matt Ludington has kept us close in his two starts and I expect us to improve as the season progresses.
    It may well be a long season for us, but we are practicing hard and I am satisfied with the effort. The baseball team is a hard-working group and they are learning a lot about adversity this season. We'll see if we can't get some timely hitting and win a few games by the end of spring break.
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