It was just one game, but Sulphur Springs head baseball coach Jerrod Hammack does not want his team to fall into habits that will lead to more defeats.
Sulphur Springs gets a chance to snap out of it today at 7 p.m. when they host Longview. Kolton Jones is scheduled to pitch. The freshmen and JV teams play at Longview.
The varsity Wildcats lost 4-1 in Pine Tree on Tuesday beginning District 13-4A play with a thud instead a win like Hammack had planned. The coach thought the team could contend for the title, but was disappointed by their outing, especially at the plate.
Since Tuesday, the Wildcats had seen Hammack’s back-to-basics approach, reinforced with running drills for players making mistakes.
“We’ve had lots of basic stuff, a lot of ground balls,” Hammack said. “We even put on some music to try and give us some rhythm when we field. I think it has worked. I can tell a difference. We hope to carry it over without the music Friday. We’ve had two good days of ground balls.”
The coach continued, “We had guys diving, just having fun. That’s what we tried to get back to.”
Hammack is also looking for the sweet sound of base hits after being held to one run off one hit Tuesday night.
The Wildcats were not much of a threat against Pine Tree’s Austin Oden who got the pitching win. After the first frame, the Wildcats were retired on ground balls 10 times, fly balls on four occasions and retired in order three times.
“We’ve been having batting practice where we put some stipulations on them,” Hammack said. “If they’re right handed hitters, we make them hit everything from second base to the right field line. If they are lefties, they have to hit from second base to the left field line. Many of them did not like it, because they pulled the ball. We put some pressure on them in practice, so maybe the game will be easy.”
Hammack said he wants his hitters to be more patience and see the ball deeper into the strike zone instead of swinging to pull the ball, which produces a weak ground ball.
“Against Pine Tree we were pulling everything and that’s not the approach we want,” Hammack said. “We want to hit the ball to the middle of the field and not get fooled. If you are a deep pull hitter and I throw you a curve ball, if you even touch it, it’s going to be a weak ground ball. We want to keep the front shoulder in longer. We want to avoid hitting the ball off our front foot.”
The coach his team makes adjustments quickly in the game with Longview.
“We did not adjust to the Pine Tree pitcher until the sixth inning and it was too late. We need to play with a sense of urgency, not desperation, but urgency,” Hammack said.
Longview comes into the game with a 4-6 record, 0-1 in district. The Lobos were hammered 11-0 by undefeated and state-ranked Hallsville.
“Longview lost a lot of kids from last year. They lost their shortstop to Hallsville,” Hammack said. “They’re young, I think they play four or five sophomores on the varsity. They’ll be young and scrappy. They don’t have a dominant pitcher, a one or a two. But I did not think that guy Tuesday night was dominant either.”
The Wildcats need to get their game in shape and be ready to play regardless of the opponent, the coach said.
“I think you’ll see a different team. We’re have to play the game, your playing against perfection. If you make all your plays it really doesn’t matter who is out on the field,” Hammack said. “We want to take care of ourselves and not worry about them. We’d like to get the lead and keep applying pressure.”
The varsity plays at Forney in a non-district game Saturday at noon.
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