Sacred Heart’s baseball practice Wednesday at Centennial went just like any other practice around the area. Half-zipped equipment bags lined the fence, suspended. A jersey-less group of young men simulated batters and fielders in live action. The seventh-graders watched.
And, in the end, head coach Jaric Reid said practice was all about improvement, among other things.
“The goal, first and foremost, is to get better every single day,” Reid said. “And then after that, we’re looking at hopefully winning our conference and hopefully carrying that momentum into districts.”
Two runs separated the Gremlins from a Kaysinger Conference Tournament title. And two runs was the difference in their district tournament exit against Skyline.
This year, Chance Spangler, Kolin Brace, Cal Racy and Brendan Volcko are the senior leaders looking to take Sacred Heart back to the postseason.
“We need them to step up,” Reid said. “This is the least amount of returning seniors we’ve had since I’ve been here. “So we need consistency more than anything out of that.”
Spangler, Brace and Volcko look to lead the Gremlin pitching staff in ’16. Include Racy and catcher Nick Cashman to that list, and you have a rough projection of the heart of the lineup.
Last season, the Gremlins averaged about 10 runs per game and allowed just over three.
Reid said the difference between last year’s group and today’s has been the level of focus during practice. He attributes this to fresh players on the field.
“Some of these guys haven’t played as much baseball as some of our seniors in the past,” Reid said. “Last year, we were upper-class heavy … Out here, as far as learning new things, that focus-level has been there for this group.”
While the Gremlins are equipped with an increased focus-level, Wednesday was still practice. Mistakes were made. Pitchers occasionally failed to cover first. Runners forgot the number of outs. A right fielder misplaced his phone after practice.
At the close of practice, before on looking middle-schoolers took the field, Reid left the team with a message.
“I just told them we got to get a little bit more mentally tough,” Reid said. “We’ve got to take things with a grain of salt and go out there and get better at it. Show me that you’re working to get better at it.”
Sacred Heart baseball opens their season Monday at Crest Ridge. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2