Coaches Corner with Baseball Coach Trent Dunavant
The ReSporter: Coach Dunavant, tell us what yourthoughts on that new district schedule where you played each team three times last season.
Coach Dunavant: “The teams that deserved to play in the playoffs got into the playoffs which many times might not be the case when you play twice with several games between contests. You have a chance of getting your opponents ace pitcher in both of those contests where other teams could have a pitcher that would be not as good.
This system gives you a chance to play a team and face more pitchers that can translate into a better chance of winning if you are better. All those better teams got in.”
The ReSporter: Tell us what your thoughts on how this group of players are doing in preparation for the upcoming season.
Coach Dunavant: “Yesterday I went down to the field and saw players knocking the ball around and playing the infield. We might have more infield depth than we have had in several seasons, which might help us in the outfield.”
“I feel pretty good with that depth and maturity, everyone out there has been on the varsity and all those lumps they have endured the past two years will payoff this year.”
“Now it is time to reap the reward and put into motion their game on the field. This is not a rebuilding year, this is a producing year.”
The ReSporter: When does improvement increase the most for players, Freshman to Sophomores, Sophomores to Juniors, etc…?
Coach Dunavant: “I don’t think their improvement happens based on what grade they might be in, they improve because they are guys that want to compete and be out there for something more. Many of our Seniors are wanting to play in college, so they’re going to be more intense their senior year than another player that might be wanting to play out that last game of the season.”
The ReSporter: Offense or Defense—what is the most glaring part of your game that might need the most work?
Coach Dunavant: “Our defense will be there, we will spend more time on offense this season.”
“Last year we were hit with the perfect storm. The UIL deadened the bats and we were very young and that made our offense less potent. When you have freshman and sophomores in the batter’s box facing an ace Senior pitcher, then you will not be as confident, because it is so hard to replicate that in practice.”
The ReSporter: How does your team look up the middle defensively?
Coach Dunavant: “We have a chance to be up there with our playoff team two years ago. With Garrett Winters, TJ Jones, Tyler Vinson…that and more players will allow them to communicate and know more things about each other and how they play the game.
Last year, we took a player from the infield and moved him to pitcher, then we had to switch a that player with an outfielder, and so on. That made players not as confident by playing different positions constantly.
Our centerfielder might be Kyler Huff or Cody Powell, so we do have options.”
The ReSporter: So as you look at your team offensively, how do you assess what you will have when the season starts?
Coach Dunavant: “We are going to have some good competition and try to carry 15 on varsity.
Offensively, we will make sure mechanics are sound and the players will catch up to the speed of a pitch with their bat. Good pitchers can get more outs with slow stuff. The slow pitches will hurt a good hitter more than a fast ball will.”
The ReSporter: What do your pitchers need? We have already heard you talk about how slow pitches work versus throwing heat.
Coach Dunavant: “The pitchers main idea is to get batters to swing at bad pitches, they (pitchers) still have to be reminded of that.
Logan Felch will be one of our main pitchers and we have several other players that we can put on the mound, so I feel good about what we will be able to put in on any given game to give us a chance.”
The ReSporter: Final thoughts as you go through your final preparations?
Coach Dunavant: “We have players that baseball is their first love and that will help our baseball IQ. There are a lot of things that can happen on the field and having players that study the game makes a coaches job easier. Baseball is the only game where defense has the ball last and each team has an equal number of chances.”
The ReSporter: Thanks Coach and we will catch up with you as we get closer to Play-Ball time.