Tiger baseball team starting fresh in 2018

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Green Forest baseball team has added some new faces in 2018, including its new head coach, Brandon Stone.

"I have been impressed so far with the turnout," Stone said. "We have had over 20 kids out. It's a big improvement from what we have had with 20, so we have some battles for positions now. It helps when you have competition. In the past, we have had kids not show up for practice, but we had to play them because we didn't have anybody else behind them. We don't have that problem now. If they decide to miss, it's next guy up. He just lost his spot."

Hayden Bailey, Trey Curbow and Dakota Grigg are all returning starters who Stone hopes will help mold younger players such as Reiley Gordon, Kameron Klutts and Lilo Castillo.

"We have been doing a lot of simulated scrimmages and game situation type stuff as opposed to drill work," Stone said. "I think that has helped us out to grab things a little faster. You can hit infield ground balls and fly balls to them all day, but until you put baserunners out there, they probably aren't going to grasp the concept of throwing and cutting off bases. They aren't going to get that until they see base runners coming at them. We have been able to do that since we have the numbers we have. We can just swap out teams and everybody gets a lot of reps doing it."

Nearly half of the team is made up of players who just got finished playing basketball. Stone said it has been an easy adjustment for those players coming over to play baseball.

"The good thing about those guys is that they have been in the program for a while," Stone said. "They kind of know how to get themselves ready and get prepared for it."

With the up and down weather we have had this year, Stone said he had many different types of practices.

"We have had a variety of practices," Stone said. "We have had warm-weather practices. We have had practices in the cold. We have been indoors the last few days because of the rain. For us, it's not a disadvantage because everybody is going through it. It gives us a chance to work on different aspects of our game. Indoors we are working on a lot of fundamental skill work. Pitchers throwing in the bullpen. We can work more on our mechanics. When we get outside, we can work more on the team-oriented side. Our team defense and the mentality of hitting as opposed to the mechanics of hitting that we can do in the gym. It's been a variety of approaches, but it works out pretty well to break things down in different segments. We have adapted to the weather and the kids have really worked hard. Practices have been pretty enjoyable so far and I'm excited to get things going."

Green Forest's first game is on Monday at Lincoln.

"I just want to see our guys go out there and compete against a 4A team that has been traditionally pretty good in baseball," Stone said. "I want us to go out there and fight every pitch and not worry about the result. We can see what areas we need to focus on in practice to turn into a complete team. You can see quite a bit scrimmaging against yourself, but you really measure yourself playing against someone else. I want to see how we respond in adverse situations and when things are going well for us. Are we going to be satisfied or are we going to push harder and finish a team off? Little things like that is what I will be looking for early in the season. It's like I told the kids though, I want to see us peaking in mid to late April."

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