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Saints open season Friday

LBWCC's P.J. Leto swings at bat practice Wednesday. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

LBWCC head baseball coach Steve Helms evaluates his players’ progress based on three aspects that he believes will lead the team to success this season.

They are “discipline, togetherness and being tough/competitive.”

Right now Helms, who enters his 20th season as the Saints head coach, said the team is lacking in all three of those areas leading up to the season opener.

“We’re very young, but if we don’t improve our discipline, and if we don’t improve our will to win, and our closeness as a group to push together, then we’re in for an off season,” he said Wednesday.

The Saints are slated to begin their 2011 season on Friday against Marion Military in a doubleheader, starting at noon. But, Helms said depending on the weather, the game will more than likely be pushed back to Saturday. A tentative date has not been scheduled, Helms said.

During the off season, the Saints go through what’s called “mental toughness.” Mental toughness is a program designed to get the players in shape, and helps them realize what it takes to play baseball at LBWCC.

Helms said the “mentality” of the team right now isn’t where it needs to be.

“Right now, I think our team has a little league mentality — participation is a little more important than the scoreboard, and that’s a concern from my stand point,” he said. “We’re in the midst of changing that, and are on the right path in changing that.

“But right now, that’s where we’re at,” he said.

The Saints have eight sophomores, and 20 freshman on the team in 2011.

“The youth of course is showing,” Helms said. “With us losing 20 kids from last year’s team — everybody can say the lack of experience can cost you.

“With the discipline and the toughness — I don’t know if that can be fixed,” he said. “We’ve got to fix it.”

As far as who will play in what position on the field, Helms said that hasn’t even been decided yet.

“Coach (Brandon) Ware and I just sat down, and went over the line up for Friday’s game, and at this point, which is a concern, we don’t have one guy set to play a position,” Helms said. “It’s not because we have a lack of talent, it’s because nobody’s gone out there and took the job, and that’s a major concern of mine.”

However, that’s not the case on the mound.

“Now, on the mound, we’ve got five or six guys that got quality innings (last year), and hopefully they’ll carry us early,” Helms said.

Those five guys are Jeffery Enloe of Baton Rouge, La.; Chris Barrentine of Newton; Spencer Youmans of Opp; Todd Dykes of Mobile; and Mykal Bailey of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

LBWCC’s schedule this season looks to be tough in the regular season, Helms said.

In conference play, the Saints will play in the Southern Division with Southern Union, Jeff Davis, Wallace Community College, Enterprise State Community College, Central Alabama, Faulkner State Community College, Chattanooga Valley, Alabama Southern and Bishop State Community College.

Conference play begins Sat., March 5 against Southern Union.

Helms said the ultimate goal every week is to “improve.”

“If we improve every day like I plan on it, then we can,” Helms said. “Our plan is to play our best ball at the post season.”