Bulldogs hoping to avenge loss in opener
An 0-5 start last year that helped result in a 7-13 season, has left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Baldwin High School baseball players, who open their season today at home.
One year ago, the Bulldogs blew a late six-run lead against Central Heights to lose 19-18. The Bulldogs look to avenge that loss as they begin their season at 4:30 p.m. today at home.
"We were up six in the seventh inning last year and blew the game, so we are really wanting to get it back," BHS senior Cory Wright said. "The home game should give us a pretty big advantage. I have never started the beginning of the season at home. I really want to get a win in front of our home crowd."
BHS coach Joe Serna said the Bulldogs began their season slow last year with a few early losses.
"We started slow last year and lost to Central Heights last year," Serna said. "I think they are ready to take it to Central Heights this year."
The Bulldogs will play one varsity game followed by one junior varsity game against Central Heights. Despite the usual doubleheader, Serna hopes the opening home game will help the team.
"I think we can get everybody off to the right frame of mind by playing in front of our crowd," Serna said. "Even though it is one seven-inning game, it can help us start well this year."
On Monday, the Bulldogs had their first practice after spring break. The weather forced a short practice for the Bulldogs, so the team had a talk about refocusing after the break.
"We had a week off, so we lost a little bit of that edge we gained the first couple of weeks," Serna said Monday. "I think after today and our little talk in the locker room, they are itching and ready to go now."
He also said he believes the team is ready to start playing games almost every Tuesday and Thursday.
"They are getting kind of bored with the day-to-day drills," Serna said. "I am sure they are ready to get some games going and get in a routine."
The Bulldogs began practice on Feb. 27. There are 24 players out for baseball this year. Serna said around 20 return from last year and 12 played varsity one year ago.
The Bulldogs will be looking toward their seniors this year. Serna said he hopes to get a lot of innings from Wright on the mound. He will also be looking for strong hitting from seniors Ryan Jorgensen and Alex Johnson, and good defense from seniors Dale Baker and Rusty Flory.
But, he really expects senior Matt Kretzschmer to be the overall leader of the team at the catcher position.
Since the first practice, Serna has been working hard on conditioning and defensive skills.
"We are working on getting in shape," Serna said. "That is a big difference from last year. We are doing a lot more conditioning. We have some team speed, so we have to get that out of them somehow."
"We have been conditioning really hard," Wright said. "He (Serna) thought that was something we needed to work on. We have been doing a lot of conditioning."
Wright also said Serna has been emphasizing eliminating errors that hurt them last year.
"We are working a lot on fielding," Wright said. "We have been working a lot on doing stuff the right way and fundamentals. Basically, what we messed up on last year."
Other than conditioning and defensive skills, the Bulldogs have also been working on a few other new items.
"We have some new offensive strategies that we are putting in place," Serna said. "We also have some new defensive coverages and signs."
This week the Bulldogs have been going over defensive coverages with runners on base. But they have had to use the chalkboard in the locker room, because the field is too wet to practice on.
The weather has been a problem for the Bulldogs, especially the amount of rainfall.
"I would say it has been worse this year, than it was last year," Serna said. "Last year it was cold, but I don't remember a lot of rain, where it took us off the field. We make due with what we can."
The Bulldogs are ready to start the season today at the BHS ball fields against the Vikings.
"We are really excited about starting," Wright said. "The seniors are especially excited, because we have been working hard all four years. We are trying to improve on last year."