The Waxahachie baseball team began practicing for the 2014 season last week, but couldn’t get on the historic grass of Richards Park until earlier this week due to the weather.
Even when the team took the diamond for the first time, it was still bitter cold. It’s hard to believe that the season is just three weeks away and the team’s first scrimmage is Saturday morning.
Waxahachie will have several new faces competing for playing time during this weekend’s intrasquad scrimmage. The team saw 10 Indians graduate last year, so there will be plenty of fresh faces on this year’s squad.
Even with that, senior pitcher Jake Loose is confident the team will have a reload not rebuild approach.
“I feel like we will be pretty good,” Loose said. “We don’t bring back a lot of people, but coach says that in Waxahachie we can plug in different people and get the same results.”
Loose is one of the arms in the mix for the opening day start and wants to be the one the coaches pick. Even with that, he’s confident in his teammates that can be effective as well.
“We’re not sure yet. There are a lot of guys fighting for those rotation spots,” Loose said.
Jake Norton, A.J. Munoz, Colton Lott and Evan Jones are the other four pitchers that will be in the mix for the start when the season opens at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 20 against Tascoso in the Grapevine First Pitch Tournament.
Left-handed pitchers are always valuable at all levels of baseball, especially at the high schools level. Loose is a righty, but Lott and Jones are the team’s lefties.
“He’s always been really consistent and throws a lot of strikes,” Loose said of Lott. “His curveball has gotten a lot better too.”
Lott and Jones both made a couple appearances at the varsity level last year and showed they can be successful. It’s just a matter of whether or not they can do that on a consistent basis against varsity line ups.
On the offensive side, the team is looking to replace several big bats and a few players are already starting to emerge.
“Luke Morton is hitting the ball well and hit a home run and a double in our first intrasquad scrimmage,” Loose said.
Even with his power surge, expect the team’s focus to once again be on pitching, defense and small ball.
The team has a handful of starters back from last year, among them will be Loose’s battery mate, Taylor Bright. The junior catcher started almost every game as a sophomore, but had shoulder issues early in the offseason. Loose thinks that Bright is back to 100 percent and is ready to improve off last year.
“He’s swinging the bat well right now,” Loose said. “He’s always solid behind the plate too. He’s like a wall.”
Alex Engelhardt was the primary first baseman last year, but right now is penciled in at third base. The first base position battle is one of several the team will have to figure out in the coming days.
“You want to see your teammates do well, but at the same time you want that spot,” Loose said. “I think that competition amongst teammates is a good thing in the end.”
Waxahachie has worked on the fundamentals for the first two weeks of practice and Loose can’t believe the season is already almost here.
“I felt like the fall semester took too long, but now the spring semester is going by way too fast,” Loose said. “Senior year actually takes some pressure off because I’ve been playing with these guys for forever. Thankfully I already know where I’m going next year.”
The pitcher is already committed to play at UT-Pan American.