Poplarville baseball growing with experience

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Poise on the mound, calm in the batter’s box and confidence in pressure situations are goals for any baseball team no matter the level of play.

For Poplarville’s program and Head Coach Slade Jones, there was uncertainty how achievable those goals were given the youth of the roster. However, the young players came through in a big way, and Jones has seen that same level of improvement during the recent summer games.

“It gives us an opportunity to look into the future and see what we want to mold them into,” Jones said.

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The games allow the squad to prepare for the upcoming year, and Jones said there have been multiple players who have developed over the past few months.

Some of the players are juggling high school and travel ball, so Jones and his staff give the players a reprieve that allows them to refuel.

“After the two weeks of break they get, they come back energized,” Jones said.

The team has matured, and settled into the kind of rhythm Jones and his staff were aiming for during the season. While it was slightly disappointing for Jones that the team wasn’t able to get to that point last year, it’s a good sign for the upcoming season. There will have to be a mentality shift within the clubhouse now that the team has experienced success.

“It’s a little different this year because now we have to perform with expectations,” Jones said.

“Last year we didn’t know how it was going to be and we were successful.”

When it comes time for fall ball, he said it would be all about doing things with the same effort and attitude they had prior to last season’s success.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Jones said. “You have to make your own opportunities, just because you put in the work doesn’t mean something great will happen.”

However, until that point Jones and his staff will use the summer games as teaching opportunities for the players. Even with the experience gained from last season, there is always something to improve upon.

“There is no finish line, every day we try to get better at something or learn something,” Jones said.

Each session is a learning opportunity for the players, and Jones said that the work ethic of his players is what will determine their success next season.

“It’s just what’s required now to be a great player, to get an opportunity to play,” Jones said. “We have great kids and they take care of their business.”

The players will have to continue to adapt to the game, but having the ability to take advantage of the occasion will show just how seasoned the squad has become.

“We’re a little bit older not age wise, but we have a ton of big game experience,” Jones said. “That wasn’t the same case last year. The guys coming in never had an opportunity, so they were thrown in the fire.”

The team rose from the ashes, and Jones said he hopes the players can carry on the success they had last year.