MIAMI — It’s going to be on-the-job training for the Miami High School baseball team, which opens the 2018 season Monday, March 5 against Verdigris.
Because of the crummy weather, they didn’t get their first chance to work on infield drills until Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Despite a water-soaked infield players were able to get out on Monday to go live.
“Everybody got three live at-bats and the pitchers got to face three to five hitters, depending on their pitch count,” Strack said.
The Blue-White fundraiser Thursday also gave the players their first game-like situation.
“Last year I pitched it since it was middle of the season and we were trying to save arms,” Strack said. “This year we need the experience of being on the mound and facing some people.”
“I like our group,” coach Jeremy Strack said. “We are young — same story, different year I feel like. The starting lineup will primarily be sophomores and juniors. Maybe a freshman will be able to work his way in.”
The only seniors are Levi Smith and Japanese exchange student Yoshihiro Shinzato.
“He will help us in the infield and outfield and may even pitch a bit,” Strack said. “That’s a nice addition to have. He is very contact oriented at the plate — he’s going to make contact consistently. Defensively, he does the little things right.”
Six of Miami’s first seven games before spring break will be against District 4A-5 opponents: Verdigris (up from 3A) and home and road series with Jay and Vinita.
Then there’s a non-district game against 5A toughie Pryor thrown into the mix.
The Wardogs look to improve on their 10-23 showing of a year ago.
They were seventh in 4A-5 with a 4-10 mark.
The Wardogs went 2-1 in bi-district play against Perkins, losing opener 10-3, getting a wild 18-15 win to stay alive but dropped a 3-1 decision in the clincher.
“We just got our basketball guys in, but everybody is pretty much in that same boat, if not, their guys are still playing (basketball).
“It makes it tough to get the chemistry and the continuity going.”
The pitching will be deeper than a year ago with Brant Morris, Drew Williams, Brad and Hunter Hartman, Conner Womack and Grant Nolte.
“We’re showing more signs of maturity than last year,” Strack said.
Womack has been the Wardogs leadoff or 2-hole hitter the last couple years, “but in the perfect world, I world like to move them (Womack and Williams) down to 3-4 roles and fill in the top of the order with some guys.
“We’re more equipped to have more production 1 through 9 than just the first four or five hitters then hope for the best.”
Strack hopes batters can cut back on strikeouts and have more quality at-bats in key situations.
“We’ve got some speed and have got some guys that can handle the bat, so let’s put some pressure on them (opponents) and see if they can play defense.”
District 4A-5 now includes MHS, the Cardinals, Jay, Vinita, Tulsa Webster, Oologah, Locust Grove and Grove.