Experience highlights Warhawk baseball team
By Casey Strickland firstname.lastname@example.org
Daleville will open its baseball season Feb. 20 against Goshen and Carroll, and it brings experience into the new year."We've got a pretty good-knit group," Daleville baseball coach Micah Turner said. "We're going to expect some things out of some younger guys coming up (who will) have to fill some spots. All in all, I think we ought to have a fairly successful season, put together some wins. I think we should compete."The Warhawks have already been competing at practice, which Turner hopes will help when games arrive."We've been trying to get some competition going between the guys," he said. "They've seemed to enjoy it. We'll try to get more game-like every day. If we can treat it like a game, practice it like a game, it's fun for them. It gets them ready in all of those aspects that could happen in a real game.Turner said scrimmages and game-like situations have helped. He also believes the experience Daleville boasts will be another benefit.The Warhawks lost two pitchers from last year's staff. Riley Remple, Christopher Perkins, Ryan Warren, A.J. McBroom and younger talent may all see time on the mound.The Alabama High School Athletic Association's new rule imposing pitch counts will have an impact on Daleville's season.The change in the pitch count…it's going to hurt us," Turner said. "We've got to be strategic. (We) put them on a pitch count. I've got my clicker out there, and we're just counting pitches. It just kind of gets them in that mindset and scenario of 'Every pitch matters.' I think we'll be OK. If we can be competitive on the mound, keep our pitch count down and log a lot of innings, we'll be able to compete."The Warhawks' infield has consisted of catcher Austin Beal, Perkins at first base, second baseman Kaylinn Escalante, Remple or Warren at shortstop and McBroom at third."Experience always plays a big part in that," Turner said. "They know what I like. We've got experience in the infield. We've got some fairly-gritty guys. I think once they're playing against somebody else besides their own teammates, that's when they usually get really competitive. I'm expecting big things out of them."The infield is also the group Turner said will lead the Hawks' lineup at the plate."I expect them to put the ball in play (and) drive in runs," he said. "That's all of our big sticks on the infield."Tyler Presley, Austin Valdez and others will fill the outfield."What we need is some knowledgeable guys (who) are skilled at least in getting to balls, holding the opposing team to as few bases as we possibly can and definitely taking an out when they give us an out," Turner said. "We've got to make sure we're being fundamental and taking advantage of all of those opportunities to get outs. I feel confident we are."Turner said the Hawks are concentrating on fundamentals and routine plays, as well as working to compete."They're competitive guys," he said. "They want to be out there on the field. They want to start. A lot of guys I've got have played football or they play all three sports. They're the best of the best."He also said the players must keep competing to earn their spots."I don't care if it's a seventh or eighth grader out there," Turner said. "I need somebody who is going to hustle, do what they're asked to do and help us win. Every position is wide open. That's kind of what we're looking at right now, but that doesn't mean those (players) will be there Feb. 20. It could change."The schedule is a tough one. It includes Zion Chapel, Samson, Houston County, Providence and others before the Class 3A, Area 4 slate begins."That's where our best competition is," Turner said. "(Houston Academy), Providence and Wicksburg, they're going to be pretty dominant. They've got good coaches, really experienced (players) and then they've got good pitching staffs."The schedule is engineered to prepare Daleville for a possible playoff appearance, during which Turner said he wanted his team to play competitively."If we do make it, I want to be able to compete," he said. "You've got to play teams that are going to get your competition level up. If not, you're just wasting your time. We could schedule a simple season, but that's not going to get us ready for area play or for the playoffs if we are fortunate enough to make it there. (We've) got to be prepared for that time when it comes."Daleville will face Carroll and Goshen beginning at noon Feb. 20 in Goshen, and the Warhawks are eager to take to the diamond."They're pretty excited," Turner said. "Practice is boring a lot of times, but you've got to do it. When the games get here, that's when it gets really fun. They're looking forward to it. We're just trying to be competitive day one, and carry that throughout the rest of the season. They're ready to go."