King’s Court: Working Out the Kinks
The Webster University baseball team kicked off their season during spring break by playing seven games. The time spent in Florida is a great opportunity for the team to fine-tune things before the SLIAC season starts. But it also helps young players make the transition to college ball.
Webster is a very young team. Fourteen of the 28 players on the baseball team’s roster are freshmen.
When a team is so young, one of the best ways to improve continuity is by actually playing. This can’t be done consistently in January and February because of the weather. Instead, the team has to make due by practicing indoors. Hitting at batting cages and working on fundamentals is very important, but there is no substitute for playing the game itself.
This makes the trip south for spring break even more significant. In years when the team is so young, it’s the first real chance for every one to play as a team. Playing for a week in Florida makes each game important, but it gives the coaches less time to decide on a starting lineup and pitching rotation.
In 2008, Webster was six outs away from advancing to the NCAA Division III College World Series. The baseball team has only lost five regular season conference games in the last three seasons. Over the same period of time, the Gorloks lost 14 of their 18 games over spring break. This includes the team losing all seven spring break games in the great 2008 season.
The baseball team hasn’t fared well lately in spring break games, but they did well this year. What the team has done consistently is dominate the SLIAC regular season. The Gorloks use the trip to Florida to get the kinks out before the most important games are played.
The team realizes that being on top of its game for the conference season is more important than winning games in early March. By using the spring to train for the bigger games later in the season, the Gorloks have won when it matters most.
In situations like the spring break games, there are two options for the coaching staff. The first is to try to win the game and possibly not have many players get into the game. The second is to not worry about winning or losing the games and instead getting as many players into the game as possible. But the best move is to balance the two.
Over spring break, the Gorloks went 6-1. This is better than they have done in the last four seasons. This could give Webster momentum heading into the heart of the season.
Baseball is all about winning, but in some instances, working on fine-tuning early in the season can prove more beneficial in the long run. That’s especially true when the team is so young. However, seeing success so quickly this spring could mean the Gorloks are better than ever, which is a scary thought for the rest of the SLIAC.