After a disappointing end to last season, baseball Coach Ty Thorpe looks to lead his team through adversity and defeat to another successful season.
After winning 21 games in a row last year, Cougar baseball had its eyes set on states, but EC Glass High School soon ruined that plan. The Cougars fell to the Hilltoppers 5-4 on May 28, coming back from a 4-2 deficit going into the seventh inning.
This year, the boys will try to move past that, fill the gaps left by their talented 2017 seniors, and have yet another successful season. Coach Thorpe seems to be putting the classic “will over skill” saying into effect this season, saying that this is the hardest working team that he’s ever had at NOVA Baseball Magazine’s media day.
“Most people don’t understand that baseball is a team effort,” said Thorpe. “You have to do your part for the team to succeed and we can go as far as this group is willing to work. We have some very talented players, but we are going to need all players to step up.”
With new pitchers Casen Chumley, a senior left handed football player, and Joe Vogatski, a sophomore fresh off winter season, expected to see time on the mound, Thorpe is confident about his defensive game.
“Even though we did lose our number one and number two [pitchers] from last year’s team, I think we have even more depth on the mound than last year’s team,” Thorpe said at the media day. “Defensively, and on the mound, we’re right where we were last year.”
“We can’t replace the hitting talent that we had last year,” said senior David Haiss, who fractured his tibia the week before tryouts, and hopes to return in early April. “We just need to do everything right the first time and be the best that we can.”
Some off field issues last year may have contributed to the team’s demise last season.
“The team’s performance on the field was affected by some issues off of the field,” senior trainer Taylor Williams said. Williams has been with the team for two years. “It’s hard to have someone jump in halfway through the season, and, even though [Haiss] did great, it also just provided distractions for the team and altered the team chemistry.”
Thorpe knows what his players need to do to succeed.
“The kids need to do it right the first time,” Thorpe said. “In the classroom, on the field, and in their personal time, every single member of the team needs to step up, and the returning players need to set the tone for the players that do not have as much varsity experience.”
Each player has individual goals and team goals, but in Thorpe’s words: “I want us to be competitive every night, give our best effort, understand the situations, and help shape these guys into productive citizens.”
As the season begins, Thorpe’s cougars will set their eyes on, not only winning baseball games, but improving their demeanor, personality, and work ethic. The team is on the road for six games and will return home on April 5 to take on Millbrook. The game starts at 6 p.m., with gates opening earlier.