PRC baseball ready to use experience this season

Published 7:00 am Friday, February 14, 2020

The Pearl River Central baseball team is coming off a season that saw it win 23 games and come one round short of making it to the state championship.

PRC may have a young team, but the players have significant experience in both regular and postseason matchups.

Since getting knocked out of the playoffs last season, the Blue Devils have been hard at work preparing to take another step this year and fight for a state title.

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The team’s first taste of competitive action this year will take place over the weekend with the team set to take part in a jamboree.

PRC will take on East Central and West Jones in two games that won’t count towards the Blue Devils’ official record, but will give the team a sense of where it stands heading into the season.

As the season has drawn closer the intensity has increased in practice as the players have turned the energy up a notch.

“They know when to turn it on. They’re getting after it. The guys have played varsity baseball and know what they need to do to get ready for the season,” Head Coach Neil Walther said. The players’ intensity, even in practice, may be due to the team’s experience.

The players know how much work it takes to be successful, especially in a tough district.

Age doesn’t determine experience and the Blue Devils’ team is the epitome of that mindset.

“They’ve got experience even if they’re not very old. They know what’s ahead of them and the challenges they’re going to face,” Walther said.

The talent level of Walther’s players has led to a personnel dilemma.

Multiple athletes are battling for the same position and some players have made some serious progress during the offseason to compete for a starting spot.

The competition serves as a great motivator for the players who thought their spot was secure, while also allowing the athletes to learn from each other.

“They’re figuring out the adjustments and things like that. I don’t care how long you’ve been playing you’re always learning,” Walther said.

After a few games in varsity baseball, opposing teams will have a full scouting report for each player, including strengths, weaknesses and tendencies.

That means athletes have to be able to adapt during the season. The ability to alter strategies and play styles can mean the difference between a win and a loss.

District won’t start until the middle of the season so Walther said the first 15 games will serve as a time to find the best combination of players.

“We should have a pretty good gauge of who can do what in situations for us. It’ll prepare kids for what we have to do,” Walther said.

In an ultra competitive district every game counts.

Last season PRC and Picayune both went 6-3 in district to earn top marks and move into the playoffs.

This season Walther said he’s expecting more of the same competition that led to such a tight race last year.

“This district is a very competitive district, any one of the four teams could win the district. There’s no doubt in my mind there will be a good team left at home come playoff time, but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Walther said.