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PRC baseball focusing on game experience

Heading into the Thanksgiving break Pearl River Central’s varsity baseball team was focused on facing live pitching.

This means varsity pitchers were pitted against varsity hitters to give both sides the experience of competing against talented competition.

The practices changed after the break as the pitchers were shut down to preserve their arms, meaning the hitters have been working in the batting cages for the most part since then.

Head Coach Neil Walther said getting that ‘live’ experience for the hitters and pitchers is useful later on when the team starts implementing specific defensive and offensive systems.

“(It’s important) to put them in different situations and have varsity hitters go against varsity pitchers to get that work,” Walther said.

When the new semester starts, the team will be at full strength as football and basketball players join the team.

The additions will add depth to the team, but also provide a conundrum for Walther.

Only nine positions are on the field at one time in baseball so a plethora of players allows Walther to use the coming months to determine who will start.

A large number of players from last year’s squad will be returning, but that doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed a spot in the starting line up.

“I think it’s hard to say because even if they did start last year, I don’t think the guy behind them is just going to give it to them. We have some guys who are going to challenge for some spots,” Walther said.

No matter the age of a player, if they outperform the person in front of them, they’ll get the spot.

Walther said having the competition so wide open inspires athletes to challenge themselves so they can fight for a starting position.

“When kids see an opportunity to get on the field and play, they work harder. We have so many kids in those positions that a lot of them see they have a shot to do this,” Walther said.

Walther said even when the opening day line up is determined there’s still a possibility of it changing depending on the opponent.

“With young kids the biggest problem is consistency, with more reps they’ll get more consistent,” Walther said.

When the new semester begins Walther said practice sessions will focus less on individual players and more on team tactics.

During January and the beginning of February is a window of opportunity where Walther and the players get things hammered out before the season begins.

“We take January to put in the defense and put in the specialty stuff. Anything that involves team defense and team offense,” Walther said.