The Rush Springs Redskins baseball team finished their summer on Tuesday, June 28, as their final double header as part of a local summer league was rained out.
The Redskins are coming off a respectable spring season, going 15-20. The team had an incredible victory over Ninnekah during districts, 33-0, before falling twice to a ranked Elmore City-Pernell team that ended their season.
Considering the boy’s athletic programs had a combined one win between football and basketball, the baseball season was a smashing success.
“Overall, we did a lot better than what I expected coming into the season because we went from the struggles that they had in football to basketball to baseball… The guys kind of forgot how to win, basically. So, the fact that we mustered up 15 wins was, I think, pretty good for them, especially being how young they were,” Coach Josh Ingram said.
The losing stench from the previous two sports did affect the team at the beginning of the season, as they began 2-12 before rattling off a 13-8 record to finish the season, an impressive turnaround.
Carrying that momentum over into the summer and eventually next spring will be helped by the fact that the Redskins are returning nearly their entire roster from the previous season, only losing one senior.
This summer was the first time in several years that the baseball team played. There is no doubt, especially for schools that do not play fall baseball, the summertime is highly important for gaining valuable game reps and experience, which is something the program has missed out on in the past.
The previous summer only saw two games come into fruition, the others either being cancelled due to rainouts or the opposing team not having enough players. While not their fault, it was certainly a missed opportunity.
Now, by playing nearly a dozen games over the course of June, Coach Ingram believes it “is going to help out a bunch going into next year.”
The game of baseball is such a skill-based sport. The only way to become better is by playing and playing often.
“I think baseball and softball, their game is reps. You can’t just show up one day and say, ‘Oh hey, I want to play baseball.’ Being able to hit the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball, it comes by just doing it repetitively, over and over…. With baseball, you have to practice it. You have to play it to be good. You can’t just show up,” Ingram said.
The goal Coach Ingram had for his team this summer was to simply “keep developing.”
“We were really young this past year. On the mound, we had Haygon Jennings, Jacob Caveness, Kaleb Crow, Chris Crow, and Landon Crawford. All of them, Class A, pretty good arms but just the inconsistency of throwing strikes, that was our main focus pitching wise, being able to command the fastball in any count to make sure we throw a strike and minimize walks,” Ingram said.
As far as hitting goes, Ingram wanted the team to improve by “…just seeing more live pitching, understanding counts, understanding situations, and being able to be a team player when you’re hitting, not up there just to swing.”
In terms of defense, the goal was to “Make the routine plays and get as many reps as we can of just routine, live-speed reps and hopefully just get better that way,” Ingram said.
For Coach Ingram, the thought process of playing so many games throughout the spring and summer was quite simple.
“I maxed out as many games as we could during the schedule because I knew just practicing, our guys weren’t going to ‘get it.’ They had to learn by playing.”
It appears, at least on the surface, the extra games have seemed to help the young squad begin to slowly “get it.” Having gone from 10-18 to 15-20, the program has been making commendable improvements.
In a community where baseball may not be the main focus, Ingram is fine with quietly making strides to build up his program.