SEASON ENDS TOO SOON: Despite early exit, Bulldogs had a strong year

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 2, 2019

The season may have ended before they wanted it to, but the Andalusia Bulldogs had a strong year on the baseball diamond.

“I thought we got better throughout the season,” Andalusia head coach Tyler Dent said. “Our pitching staff did a tremendous job this year of throwing strikes and giving us a chance to win every game. Our hitters did a good job of keeping us in ball games, and this was probably the best defensive team that I’ve ever had. They were right around .980 (fielding percentage) as a team.”

Dent said the defensive effort was really a huge factor in the year.

“In past years, I can look back and remember specific games or innings where we just kicked the ball around and played bad defense,” Dent said. “This year, I can’t recall a single inning where something like that happened.”

The players’ attention to details is what allowed them to play solid defense, Dent said.

“It says a lot about how hard these kids practiced,” Dent said. “You see teams all the time that struggle to throw and catch. Those are foundations of the game and fundamentals of the game. Our kids never took the fundamentals for granted. It showed that they took something from practice and transitioned it into the game.”

Dent said the senior players have been instrumental to the success of the program.

“Guys like J.W. Jones, Hogan Nichols, Brennan Strong, Noah Kelley and Garrett Davis have been with me for five years and Gill has been with for the past three years,” Dent said. “They have treated baseball like another part of their life. They don’t treat it like a hobby. We talked a lot about making baseball a lifestyle for us. If we wanted to turn around this program, baseball had to be more than just a hobby and these guys did that. They have put so much time and effort into this program and they have left a legacy.”

Dent said that one of his seniors made a good point about what kind of ride they have had in their years at Andalusia.

“Garrett Davis made a really good point the other day,” Dent said. “How many teams have experienced a six-win season and then a state championship a few years later.”

His senior players will all be missed, Dent said.

“Hogan is going to truly be missed because of how well he manages the game and keeps the pitchers on track,” Dent said. “Garrett was kind of the old man on the team because of how long he has been starting. Gill brought an energy level that not many players are capable of. Noah was a guy that worked his tail off and would do whatever and play where ever he was needed. Brennan is a guy that didn’t play last year and then was huge for us on the mound this year. J.W. is probably one of the most interchangeable players that we had. He exceeded in whatever role he was in. The coolest part was watching them take time to teach the younger guys. They want to make sure that these younger guys are going to be able to carry on their legacy.”