Tigers hope to go farther this year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2010

With the amount of experienced personnel on Straughn’s baseball team, head coach John Fussell said he is expecting a good season in 2010.

Right now, Straughn has 15 varsity players on the roster for this season. Of those, 12 are juniors.

“This is the first year in the four years that I’ve been here that we’ve got more upper classmen than we do underclassmen,” Fussell said.

One senior, a sophomore and a freshman round out the team.

The Tigers are looking at a rigorous schedule with 16 double headers and two tournaments along the way.

“We’re going to be busy,” Fussell said.

In addition, this is the first year that Straughn’s baseball team will host its own tournament, set for March 19-20.

It will include a seven-team field with Dale County, Andalusia, Elba, Red Level, Butler County Magnet School and New Brockton.

With that, fatigue can play a factor, but Fussell said he is confident in his team will get through the schedule.

“We’ve got four pitchers that have been our top four guys in our rotation since they were in eighth grade,” he said. “Then, we’ve got three or four other guys that are going to be able to give us some energy, too. So, we’ve got some guys that can throw. We’ve got them spread out pretty good.”

Fussell said he hasn’t decided where everybody is going to play yet on the field, but players are fighting for those positions.

One goal that Straughn has set from the get-go is to make it as far as they can in the playoffs. Last season, the Tigers finished in the first round, losing to Headland. They finished with 18-14 overall, and 2-2 in Class 3A, Area 3.

“Our nemesis has been that we’ve been to the first round (of the playoffs) three years in a row and have not gotten out of it,” Fussell said. “One of our goals this year is to get as far as our ability can get us to the playoffs. I truly believe we’ve got some guys that can play. We’ve got to learn to play together as a team. And whatever our role is, whether we’re starting or not — we’ve got to perform our role.”

Despite what he calls it as being “crazy,” Fussell said he believes the football team’s success in 2009 will carry over to the baseball team this season.

“I believe the fact that we went three rounds in football is going to carry over into baseball,” he said. “They’ve played in big football games.”

And after football was over, the baseball team started its conditioning program.

As far as how practice is going, Fussell said it has gone well.

“Last Thursday and Friday we didn’t practice because of the weather,” he said. “It’s been unseasonably cold, but it’s been going well. Thursday, we kind of scrimmaged and it was the best practice we’ve had all year.”

One thing Straughn wants to do this year above all else is beat Luverne.

“What we’ve got to do this year is beat Luverne,” Fussell said. “They went to the fourth round last year and they’re in our area. If we see them in the playoffs, we’ll see them in the second round. We want to beat Luverne.”

Straughn’s first game on Monday was postponed and will be played on Tues., March 2 at Carroll-Ozark in a double header against Headland and Carroll-Ozark starting at 4 p.m.

On Saturday, the Tigers will play Wicksburg and Geneva County on the road for a double header at 11 a.m.