Summer baseball is in full swing at West Point High School.
With nearly all their starters returning to the diamond next spring, this summer is the perfect opportunity to tweak a few issues that might have plagued the team in 2010. West Point last season finished 15-12 and were eliminated in the second round of the 5A state playoffs after back-to-back losses to eventual champion Ridgeland.
Green Wave head coach Buddy Weyers and his staff have gone back to a two-team varsity system which allows every kid the chance to play.
“It's more demanding on the coaches,” he said. “But it's better for the guys because that way you have 12 or 13 on a team instead of 25 or 26. Everybody plays all the time.” It also makes it easier on the scheduling; one team at home and one on the road.
The two-team system also gives a chance for the assistants to improve their coaching skills. Blake Hutchison takes over the no. 1 team while Kyle Stringer and Brian Guy, who last year coached at Meridian High School, will be in charge of the no. 2 team.
“It gives them a little experience from a decision making standpoint,” Weyers said.
In the past, Weyers had tried using two teams but said several players weren't reliable to show up on game day. But after a two year break, he brought it back last season and it has since been a success.
While most kids work summer jobs, or enjoy going on family vacations, the Green Wave baseball team will try and stay focused on the task at hand and improving on the little things that potentially could have led to a win or a loss last season.
“I try to make them understand that whether it's the first pitch of the first inning, or the last pitch of the seventh can determine the outcome of the game,” Weyers said. He stressed that giving up to many walks, which improved as the season went on, and the team's mental toughness at times were key issues he wanted to address this summer.
Being mentally prepared is even tougher during the summer, because the players at times, might want to get a break from baseball. The games they play don't mean as much during the season.
“How much you stay involved mentally becomes individualized,” Weyers said. “It becomes that much more challenging for every player over the summer.”
Although practices are not mandatory for the varsity teams, players do meet three times a week for weight training. For the most part, each player finds time to improve their swing or throwing mechanics on their own.
The majority of the squad is coming back, including the pitching staff and Meyers says he's excited about several players that could have solid seasons next spring, including junior Freddie Reed who batted .354 with 28 RBI.
“He had a lot of big hits in the spring,” Weyers said. Reed led the team in RBI and home runs with five.
Weyers said he's also excited about senior pitchers Leroy Calvert and William Harrell and junior Dalentez Lane. Dalton Davis, voted team captain is expected to be a tremendous leader on the field for the Green Wave who is described by Weyers as a “good solid baseball player with good work ethic, and good leadership skills”.
When the summer season is finished, Weyers said there is a lot to look forward to despite playing in one of the toughest divisions in the state.
The Green Wave continue their summer program with games on June 13, 16, 20 and 24. All games are scheduled for 5 pm.View more articles in: