Despite youth, Bobcats eyeing bounceback season
It's been said that consistency is the foundation of virtue. The Basehor-Linwood baseball team just hopes it is the path that leads to more wins.
After never quite gaining their footing during a disappointing 3-17 season in 2006, the Bobcats are hopeful that 2007 will be different.
"This year's team, though much younger with regard to the starting lineup and overall roster, appears to be a group that is very receptive to coaching," BLHS coach Dave Svoboda said. "They are focused on improving every day and ready to put the disappointment of last year in the rear view mirror."
Svoboda said the highlight of the season was a victory over Turner at CommunityAmerica Ballpark late in the year.
"We just never were able to put together consistent efforts back-to-back," Svoboda said.
This year's team will look very different than last year's version. The young Bobcats return only two seniors, Matt Fanning and Cody McCoy.
"Cody remains our No. 1 starter on the mound," Svoboda said. "Matt will be in a relief role when he's not starting at second base, where he was honorable mention all-league a year ago."
New starters will be sprinkled throughout the field.
"This team will start six young men or more, depending upon the platoon situation, who saw limited varsity time a year ago or are freshmen," Svoboda said. "Early indications would be that this team will be more 'assignment-sound' with regard to the little things."
Svoboda also believes more knowledge in the clubhouse will breed player improvement.
"Having a former head coach in the dugout with me (Casey Quinlan) on game days will make our team better, and will make me a better head coach," Svoboda said.
With so many new faces, a large faction of players with little experience will be thrust into the starting lineup. Returning players are also being shuffled to take advantage of their athletic ability.
"Juniors Tyler Miles and Travis Inlow both are making the move from the infield to the outfield, and will provide us with the quickness that you need to man the large outfields on the fields on which we play," Svoboda said.
"Sophomore Justin Gripka had one of our pitching wins a year ago, and will need to continue to improve there, and at shortstop or third base, depending upon where he plays on a given day."
The team began practicing on Feb. 26.
"We've worked quite a bit on defensive fundamentals, pitching and the little things that baseball revolves around," Svoboda said.
The coaching staff was impressed with the improved strength and conditioning of the players when they reported.
"All of those athletes who participated in our offseason training program with Coach Schwisow have shown marked improvement physically," Svoboda said. "It's really hard to single out one or two young men, but I believe Tyler Miles might be ready to have a break-out season. And that's a direct result of a great deal of individual hard work."
The team's goals are currently fluid. The coaching staff is looking solely for improvement.
"We want each of our players to improve from season's start to season's end," Svoboda said. "With that, we want to be a team that displays strong fundamentals,shows hustle at all times, and develops a deep caring for one another and the game."