Bulldogs prepared for Vikings
Lack of varsity experience and a lack of depth might be the two biggest road blocks sitting in the path of the Baldwin High School baseball team this spring.
The Bulldogs, who open the season at 4:30 p.m. today at Central Heights, are hoping for a successful season.
"I guess we are ready," senior Cory Lauridsen said. "It's been raining a lot, but we will be ready for Thursday."
Baldwin lost eight seniors from last year's roster, many of who played valuable varsity minutes. This year the Bulldogs have nine upperclassmen and only a few have played much varsity baseball.
Baldwin will also battle lack of depth as its 27-man roster features many youthful and new players.
"It's not just that we are young, but we're inexperienced and not very deep," first-year coach Brock Hartshorn said. "There were a lot of seniors who played last year and many of the guys this year don't have much varsity experience."
After the first couple of weeks of practice, Hartshorn was concerned about the youth of his team. Since then, he has had many players improve enough that he isn't too worried when the season starts.
"Our youth is in really crucial spots," Hartshorn said. "We have seniors at first and third base. We have (junior) Zach Durr pitching and some juniors in the outfield. The younger players are further along than I thought they would be. I don't think youth is going to be as much of a problem as I thought it was going to be."
Lauridsen said the lack of experience might hurt BHS this season.
"It will hurt us a little bit, because we have a lot of new players," Lauridsen said. "We'll just have to see how the season goes."
Besides youth and inexperience, the Bulldogs have also battled a rainy week of practice. That has created problems when preparing for the season-opener against the Vikings.
"During the last week, we've had a hard time getting on the field," Hartshorn said. "It's hard to practice fielding indoors, so we are working on hitting inside."
After the trip to Central Heights, the Bulldogs return home to host Osawatomie at 4:30 p.m. Monday. Hartshorn is hoping BHS will play his style of baseball early in the season, because it will give them a chance to win some early contests.
"These first two games are going to be competitive," Hartshorn said. "They are winnable games if we play well. Our goal is to stay competitive and stay close. We don't want to get blown out and shouldn't if we play our style of ball. We want to be in games with our defense."
Lauridsen has taking a liking to his new coach and his style of baseball.
"I think they are great," Lauridsen said of the new coaches. "They know what they are talking about. We are trying to learn the new system right now."
The assistant coaches this year are Brian Turk, Curtis Murdock and Neal Hartshorn, who is the brother of B. Hartshorn.
Murdock played baseball during college and N. Hartshorn played some minor league ball. Turk played at BHS and has returned to coach the Bulldogs during the last two seasons.
"The baseball knowledge that we have on this staff has been great," B. Hartshorn said. "The kids listen to them and have responded to their coaching. All of these guys could be head coaches if they wanted to be."
The new BHS squad will get a chance to showcase its talent at 4:30 p.m. today at Central Heights.