Weather assists early season practices
First-year baseball coach Brock Hartshorn has been using the first few weeks of practice to install his style of play in the Baldwin High School team.
Hartshorn takes over a team that finished 10-9 last season and placed sixth in the Frontier League under former coach Joe Serna. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs lost eight seniors from that team.
The lack of experience and leadership is something Hartshorn has tried to work on since practice began Feb. 26.
"Practices are good and the kids are working hard," Hartshorn said. "We are pretty young and inexperienced, but we have some good assistants who are starting to learn our style of ball."
The Bulldogs have 27 players out this season, including five seniors and four juniors.
Junior Zach Durr has enjoyed practices so far, although teaching the fundamentals to the newcomers does take a while.
"Practices are going good, but we're just really young," Durr said. "We're working hard and getting better. It takes a while to do the drills but everybody is learning quickly."
Hartshorn wants to establish his style of play on his team before season begins next week. His style focuses around the fundamentals of the game and other aspects that create opportunities during a game.
"We've been doing a lot fundamental stuff and playing what we call small ball," Hartshorn said. "Being so young and inexperienced, we thought we should work on fundamentals at first. We've been working on bunting and a lot of situational stuff. We have moved into a lot of the other stuff. We've also worked on different techniques and plays."
Durr has taken a liking to his new coach.
"I like him a lot," Durr said. "His practices are a lot more organized and fun. We used to just sit around in the outfield and be bored. Now we are working and having fun."
One way he hopes to establish his style is with his assistant coaches. They are 2004 BHS graduate Brian Turk, Curtis Murdock and Neal Hartshorn, who is the brother of B. Hartshorn.
The Bulldogs have also taken advantage of the warm weather during the early season, at least until this week.
"It's been great," Hartshorn said of the weather. "For the first week of practice we were inside because of bad weather. It's been great to get out there since then. We get a lot done when we are on the field."
Hartshorn even said the Bulldogs held a scrimmage last Thursday. He was impressed by the team after the contest.
"We had a scrimmage (Thursday) that went pretty well," Hartshorn said. "Our pitchers are throwing strikes and kids are coming out and working hard.
"As I said earlier, we are pretty young and that's going to play into games we win," Hartshorn said. "As the season goes, I think we will be better midseason and at the end than we will be here at the start."
Durr is one of the returning starting pitchers for the Bulldogs. He broke a finger on his throwing hand in January during a basketball game, but said he hasn't been bothered by it too much.
"It was hard to throw at first," Durr said. "I still can't throw everything yet, but I'm getting used to it. Hopefully, it will all go all right this season."
Hartshorn has been pleased with Durr and his other hurlers this spring.
"I thought that our pitchers are ahead of the curve as far as throwing strikes," Hartshorn said. "I am happy to see that."
BHS begins its season March 29 at Central Heights.
"We play Central Heights and I think they are pretty excited to go on the road," Hartshorn said. "The kids are excited about the season and they are ready to play."