It’s early in the season to make predictions, but Hillsboro High School baseball coach Matt Garman said he’s hopeful a strong lineup of seniors with varied talents will carry the team to some form of success against a backdrop of new pitching restrictions from the OHSAA that will keep the team’s seniors on their toes.
This season will be Garman’s first as head coach of the Indians crew, although he’s had plenty of experience serving as the Hillsboro Junior Varsity coach and Fairfield High School head coach. As a Hillsboro graduate, Garman said he told his players he’s happy to be “wearing the right shade of red.”
Garman said his senior lineup shows a lot of promise at bat and on the defensive end. Cayse Cameron has performed well on the mound, while Hunter Chain and Sajoun Jones also show pitching promise. Chain will also serve as short stop and third base, while Jones will play outfield – although Garman said all three seniors will get a shot at pitching throughout the season. Brian Smith had one of the top batting averages last year and will serve as an outfielder, while starting catcher Jonah Humphries will round things out for the team’s senior roster.
Meanwhile, the team’s one sophomore is Ethan Watson, who gave a stellar performance during basketball season and enters the season as a talented athlete, Garman said.
“I think offensively we’ve been looking good so far,” he said. “I think we’ll be able to hit it and score runs. Defensively, we’ve got a lot of guys who are athletic and can do a lot of things. We’ll be able to put a solid defensive line up there on a game-to-game basis.”
Four juniors will also see playing time this season, while a large freshman base will mostly be reserve.
“Our goal really is just to get better every day, and come together as a team,” Garman said. “It’s a new program, so especially for the seniors, getting used to a new coach, a new kind of new philosophy and a little different approach to the game will be a challenge.”
New OHSAA guidelines have tightened pitching restrictions, so Garman said he’ll be playing around with the pitching rotation and keeping an eye on the count.
“We’ve only got one guy coming back that’s a proven pitcher, so I think for us, the X-factor is going to be the pitchers… We’ll be trying to work guys in and still maintain the competitiveness on a day-to-day basis, but we’ll also try to keep that pitch count down,” he said.
With opening day coming up this Saturday, Garman said it’s important for the team to switch gears during practice this week.
“We’re trying to transition into putting pre-season mode behind us, where it’s a lot of fundamentals, and now go into the game mentality: Trusting your swing, trusting your mechanics, trusting the things you’ve done,” he said. “It’s just time to go out and have faith and put it all out on the field.”
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.