Opp learning to grow

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 26, 2016


The Opp Bobcats baseball team has started the 2016 baseball season with a 1-2 record, but head coach Mike Cassady has seen improvement from his young team.

“We are a very young team this year,” Cassady said. “We graduated 10 last year and have graduated more than 20 in the past two years. So I knew going into the year that experience would be a factor.”

Cassady said that one of the biggest things that the team needs to work on is defense.

“Right now, we have to improve on defense,” Cassady said. “I’m not looking for us to make ESPN highlight plays all the time, but we have to be able to make the routine plays.”

Errors on routine plays has been a problem in the early part of the season for the Bobcats.

“We gave up nine runs in the loss to Elba, but seven of those runs were unearned,” Cassady said. “Not making those routine plays extends innings and increases the pitch count of the pitcher. We aren’t a team that can afford to do that.”

In the pitching department, Britt Buckelew is the only pitcher with any varsity experience. Buckelew has been a starting pitcher for the Bobcats for the past four seasons.

“Our pitchers have been doing a good job getting strikes, but they are having to stay out there too long,” Cassady said. “We don’t really have any just dominate pitcher, but we have a few guys that can throw strikes. Britt is really the only guy we have on the roster that has any experience pitching at the varsity level, and we expect him to give us a chance to win every time he steps on the mound.”

As for the Bobcats strong suit, Cassady said that would be the team’s speed and baserunning ability.

“I’ve been really impressed with our speed and ability on the base paths,” Cassady said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that really put pressure on the defense any time they are at the plate. That opens up a lot of different ways to score. This is probably the most speed I’ve had on one team in a long time. They put pressure on the defense because if the defense bobbles the ball, they are on base.”

Cassady said that while the team is inexperienced, he has no doubt they can be successful.

“We are probably going to take some lumps at the first of the season, but I have a lot of talented players on this team,”

Cassady said. “We still have a lot of places we are tying to find answers for, but that’s my job. It may takes us a little bit to find what works best for us, but I have no doubt that we will get there.”

Cassady said this first part of the season is important to finding what works best and prepare them for area play.

“We will figure out what we can do and how we can do it,” Cassady said. “Right now, we are still working on it, we just want to have all that worked out before we start area play.”