Diamond Dogs look at 2016 with new head coach

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By R. Alan Richardson sports editor

Coach Merritt Ainslie will guide the baseball team in his inaugural season in that position. Ainslie brings a lot of baseball background to the table having played his high school days at Morgan and moving on to North Georgia for his college career. He has also been an assistant on the baseball staff this past season under Head Coach Jerry McCullough and an assistant with the softball program the past two years under Head Coach Doug Connelly.

The team looks to improve on 2015’s record of 7-17 (region 5-13) earning sixth place overall in the region. Ainslie talked about the season, “My philosophy for playing baseball is fairly simple.  The coaching staff and players will work very hard and focus at practice on executing the small routine tasks that make teams tough to beat.  We will focus on making the routine plays on defense.  Routine plays are called routine because it’s the expectation that they are executed correctly a high percentage of the time.  We will train our pitchers to throw strikes and rely on our defense to work hard behind them; eliminating the four and five out innings for our defense.  Offensively we are focusing on hitting fastballs where they are pitched on a consistent basis and when called on to be a situational hitter that we have the ability and confidence to execute what is needed to advance runners around the bases.  We feel that if we do these few things very well we will be in most balls games and give ourselves a chance to win every time we take the field.

We expect to compete for one of the four playoff spots in a very tough region.  Last year our region advanced all four team into the third round of the state playoffs (Elite Eight) and Jefferson was the State Runner-up.  Finishing in the top four is tough in Region 8-AAA, but we are up to the task.” Assistant coaches for baseball this season are: Crandall Stamps, Doug Connelly, Billy Dooley, John Darsey, and Trent McElroy. The Dogs’ first game will be on the road at Jackson February 17th at 5:55. Their first home game pits Morgan against Archer on February 23rd at 5:55.

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