By Nick Nunn staff writer
The Morgan County High School (MCHS) baseball program is shaking up the way their typical summer schedule is going to work this year. Instead of spending the summer months playing games with teams throughout the area, the Diamond Dogs will be engaging in a five-week instructional league, with individual as well as team development and improvement being the primary objectives.
Morgan County Coach Jerry McCullough stated that the instructional league, which began with practices last Wednesday, May 21, will highlight “focused coach instruction” in order to develop a “philosophy of baseball” in each team member.
McCullough said that the instructional league will work to take care of a lot of the routine instruction that is usually crammed into the first few weeks of practice in early Spring. According to McCullough, that routine work, which will involve having players get used to a larger variety of positions than they would normally see during the course of a regular set of games, will allow the athletes to understand baseball at a higher level.
“Together, the kids will learn how plays develop and how improving their own performance makes those plays develop the right way,” said McCullough. “Utilizing our skills as coaches, we will be able to do more with the players toward meeting the goals through focused instruction and game simulations.”
Conditioning, team play, communication, learning signs, and coaching strategies will be some of the general themes focused on during the instructional league. Individual player development goals will be broken down into pitching, hitting, fielding, and base running. Pitchers will work on approach and mechanics, as well as holding runners on base and proper pick-off techniques. Batters will work on plate discipline, situational hitting, and taking signs; fielders will develop through cut and relay exercises, run downs, double plays; and base runners will focus on taking leads, earning extra bases, reading the defense, and sliding.
The program is currently in its second week. This Friday and Saturday, the team will travel to Augusta for the Westside Diamond Classic tournament.
Friday night, Morgan County will take on Evans County at 6 p.m. and turn around to play Greenbriar at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the Dogs will face Lakeside at 1:30 p.m. and Westside at 3:45 p.m. Following this weekend’s tournament, there will be three additional weeks of practice sessions, ending on Wednesday, June 18. To finish out the instructional league, the Dogs will compete in a Varsity/Junior Varsity tournament from June 19 to June 22. The location and times of the games has yet to be determined.
Coach Rob Brown described the instructional league as a “breath of fresh air” for the Morgan County baseball program. “We’re looking forward to it,” said Brown.