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Coach Tucker Speaks on Scrimmage

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Coach Tucker Speaks on Scrimmage

Thomas Smith, Writer

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The Cartersville Varsity Baseball team lost their scrimmage game 6-10 to the 7A Milton Eagles on Thursday, February 7. The game didn’t necessarily reflect a regular baseball game due to the strange and scripted rules of the scrimmage. Instead of three outs per inning, there was five batters per inning. If one team ended the five batter inning with the bases loaded, they would have the bases loaded the next inning. Unfortunately for the Canes, that’s exactly what happened. Cartersville held a 6-5 lead over Milton heading into the bottom of the seventh. Sadly, senior lefty pitcher Reece Thompson couldn’t pull it out with the bases loaded. Milton knocked in four more runs to make the final score 10-6.

 

While there is lots to improve upon, the Canes had multiple highlights. Senior Cohen Wilbanks pitched an incredible inning, but terrible calls by the umpire muffled his performance. Senior infielder Peyton Willoughby hit a double with bases loaded and brought in two RBI’s, senior pitcher Ian Inaba had three strikeouts, senior infielder Jordan Wilkie hit a single that brought one runner home, and junior third-baseman Hayden Davidson made some money throws, including a missile from third to first and a great throw to home to keep a runner from scoring.

 

Thomas Smith sat down with Coach Kyle Tucker and asked him a few questions about the scrimmage.

 

TS: What did you see from your guys that you liked in the scrimmage game?

 

KT: I’m very pleased with how we played defensively and with pitching. I wanted to see our pitchers throw strikes and see how we played defense when the ball got put in play. I feel like we did well with that. We threw seven different pitchers and each pitcher had some things that they really impressed us with, but each pitcher also had some things that they know they can work on. I feel like we made some really good plays. We turned a really nice double play, we threw a guy out at the plate, we made a great diving catch at shortstop, and almost turned another double play. Those were four really strong defensive plays that I was impressed with. We were in the right places. When the ball gets hit, there’s a lot of moving pieces: backing up bases and being where you’re supposed to be. I thought we did a really good job with that. Early in the year, defense and pitching is more important than our batting average as a team, so I was really pleased with that, last night.

 

TS: Cohen Wilbanks pitched a great inning, but some questionable calls by the umpire brought him down. How do you as a coach mentally prepare your guys to keep their heads in the game and take it one pitch at a time?

 

KT: Our mantra is look out the windshield. When you drive a car, you look out the windshield, not the rearview mirrors. Whatever happens, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent, we’ve got to focus on what’s next. I talked to Cohen about that. He threw one pitch that was clearly a strike and the umpire missed it. He got a little upset and I just reminded him that we can’t rewind time. All we can do is focus on what’s next. That’s just baseball. There’s always going to be bad times in baseball. You can hit the ball as hard as possible and it goes right to the shortstop’s glove, that happens. You can’t get frustrated by that, you’ve got to move on to what’s next. It’s tough because these guys are competitors, but you have to fight the frustration and move on.

 

TS: There were lots of mistakes by both teams and that’s mostly just because it’s so early in the season. How different do you expect that to look by Tuesday, in your season opener at Villa Rica?

 

KT: I think that’s the whole point of the scrimmage. I really wish we could have three of them, but we’ve been able to scrimmage between ourselves. We can attempt to recreate it in practice, but you can’t recreate going out and playing against another team. We can try to prepare for every possible scenario, but in baseball there’s thousands of things that can happen. It’s good to be able to go out there and actually play against another team. One thing that I like about this team is that they know what it takes to win. A lot of them have gone through it. I’m hoping what they’ll do is show these other guys that out success in games is dictated by how we practice and how we approach each day. If we keep approaching each day with the mindset that we want to get better than we were the day before, then we’ll be where we want to be in the end.

 

TS: It’s clear that you have lots of talent and depth on the team. How much easier does this depth make it for you as the coach and more importantly for the players? Does it drive the guys to work harder so they don’t get replaced?  

 

KT: Always. You’ve got to earn your spot everyday. I’ve never seen a coach throw a pitch, hit a ball, or make a catch. Our players are what makes our team. As coaches, our job is to work them hard in practice, encourage them, if they make a mistake we have to remind them that they can do better, and in a game we have to just sit back and be a fan. We have a talented bunch of guys and the last thing we want to do is be like robots or make them scared to mess up. We want the games to be fun and let them cut it loose and have a good time.

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