PRC baseball preparing for a tough district
By the end of the season last year the Pearl River Central baseball team only had one senior on the field after starting the year with five.
Injuries meant younger players had to fill the gaps, who rose to the challenge.
This year the squad only has two seniors on it and Head Coach Neil Walther said of the 23 players on the roster 11 are sophomores.
However, their grade designation doesn’t mean the young players are inexperienced.
Due to the lack of seniors on the squad the past couple of years sophomores, freshmen and even some 8th graders have been given the opportunity to compete on the varsity level.
This has given Walther a young team with loads of game experience, and with the team going deep into the playoffs the youngsters are used to handling the prime time games as well.
“It doesn’t matter what grade you’re in. As far as game experience they have as much as anybody else,” Walther said.
Walther said the team chemistry would be a strong point for the squad with so many of the players being in the same grade.
Last year, when the youngsters were on the field, the upperclassmen were supportive the entire time.
“They know what it’s about; it’s an unselfish group. If you can eliminate the egos your team can get better just by doing that,” Walther said.
Walther said the team would be returning its entire starting infield that led the state in double plays last season.
The pitching staff will include two seniors, one of whom was All-State last year, and five sophomores.
Walther said the offense would improve as well with the players now being a year older and having an experienced eye to be able to read pitches.
Walther said that last year pitching depth is what ended up knocking PRC out of the playoffs and this year they’re looking to build out the team’s rotation.
“Our season will be determined by whether those sophomores will be ready to pitch varsity. We’re aiming to have five guys who can go and get outs,” Walther said.
Baseball is a balancing act.
Walther would love to have his pitchers toss a no-hitter each outing, but if the team can’t score then the pitching will be for naught.
On the other side, if the pitchers can’t keep the opponent off the bases, then it doesn’t matter how well a team can hit because they’ll need to score a large amount of runs.
Walther said he is searching for that balance in his squad, so there are days where his pitchers can’t be hit, and days where the offense is clicking.
“Sometimes we can get us out and sometimes we can’t. I don’t know who to root for,” Walther said.
Either way the Blue Devils will have to go up against a district full of teams capable of making it to the state final.
However, Walther loves the challenge, and is looking forward to seeing how his team stacks up. “It’s the best district in the state by far, but I’d rather have it that way than it be weak,” Walther said.