WILDCATS LAY FOUNDATION: Florala success paves way for future teams

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Florala Wildcats’ baseball team (10-11-1) put together a strong season and made the playoffs for the first time in several years.

Florala made it to the playoffs, but were swept by Sweetwater to end their season.

“I feel like we made some big strides this year,” Florala head coach Tyler Zessin said. “We set a goal at the beginning of the year to make the playoffs. We were striving each game to reach that goal and we accomplished it.”

Zessin said the team really improved throughout the year.

“I thought we just really improved overall on the game of baseball,” Zessin said. “We put in bunt defense, learned how to bunt people over and how to pitch in tough situations. We really just learned more about the game of baseball.”

Laying the foundation to future success is something that Zessin said made this team special.

“I’m just proud of the how they set the foundation for this program,” Zessin said. “They went from being winless two years ago to making the state playoffs this year. They have been such a hard working group of young men and I’ve been extremely proud of what they were able to accomplish this year.”

The senior players were important to the success of the program, Zessin said.

“We had five seniors this year,” Zessin said. “Hunter Truman, Justin Paul, Caleb Wood, Nealand Stone and Dylan Hobby. They have been a huge part in the building the foundation for this program. My only coaching regret is that I don’t have more time with these guys. I’m only a few years older then these guys and they believed in me and what I wanted to do. I’m really going to miss these guys.”

Zessin said the Wildcats will continue to work on improving after the season has come to an end.

“We have started a summer program for these guys,” Zessin said. “We have a few games lined up for them and a few of them are playing travel ball. We want to get it where baseball is a priority and not just a second sport.”

Zessin said he is excited about next season.

“We have some good guys coming back next year,” Zessin said. “It’s all going to depend on how hard they are willing to work for it. This year we had the motto of ‘next man up’. If one guy couldn’t get it done, the next guy is going to get it done. That was our motto and that led us to the playoffs.”