Archive for Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Press at home in first game with Bobcats

April 3, 2002

Curtis Press has been a head baseball coach for a few years now. So even though last Thursday's season-opener against De Soto was his first game with Basehor-Linwood High School, the basics seemed the same.

He still made the lineup card an hour beforehand. He still had his team arrive nearly two hours early and he treated the pregame warm up the same as he has every time he's taken the field as a coach. In that respect, nothing was different about Press' first game as the head man of the Bobcats.

In other ways, however, a few things were different when Press dressed in green and gold for the first time. The names he wrote on the lineup card were new. The faces he saw on the field, in the stands and in the opposing dugout were unfamiliar. And perhaps above all, he entered the game with a .500 record, 0-0.

By the end of the day, Press' record moved up 500 points, as the Bobcats defeated De Soto 10-2 and moved their coach's record at BLHS to 1-0. The funny thing about it was, Press didn't see the win as a milestone. Instead, he saw it as the first of many to come this season.

"I was right at home out there," Press said. "Everything was taken care of for me, all I had to do was my job and that was to coach Basehor-Linwood baseball. It was nice to be with a new team and in a new environment and it was nice to get a win."

For Press, the game was routine. As he has always done, he wrote every possible situation out on paper before the game and followed it to a T during the game. When he used pinch hitter for his regular starters, he didn't do so on a whim. Those moves were calculated hours before and they represent the way Press approaches every game he coaches.

Although they have only experienced an actual game with their new coach one time, the BLHS players said they loved the experience of playing for him in a live game.

"It seemed like he fit in perfect out there," junior Jeremy Hampton said. "He's more disciplined than we were used to, but we had a few weeks of practice to get used to that and I love it. I think he's a great fit for our team."

Hampton, who started every varsity game last season, said Press' third-base signs were more complicated than the team was used to, but added that after a while everything seemed completely normal especially when he looked at the scoreboard.

"We weren't really trying to win for him because it was his first game," Hampton said. "We were just trying to win because it was everyone's first game. We wanted to win for him so he didn't make us run extra at practice."

The only glaring difference for Press in his first game with the Bobcats was the uniform he wore. But since the uniforms were brand new, the entire team experienced that feeling together.

"It was nice to be in new colors especially because they were new uniforms," Press said. "So I think we all went through that a little bit together."

Press is not superstitious. He didn't purposely put on one sock before the other when he suited up. Nor did he wear any lucky T-shirts underneath his uniform. Instead, he prepared his gameplan to the last detail and then he left it up to his players to execute it. That's what the team likes most about him and that's exactly what Press wants.

"The signal calling, your lineup, how you call the game, that's all formatted before the game starts," Press said. "I was kind of surprised I didn't get more excited, but I was more concerned with making sure practice was good enough preparation for our team."

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