Last Monday marked the first official day for baseball and softball teams to participate in throwing drills with the full roster. There are still some limitations on practice time and what can be done before the first day of practice Jan. 27 but the new period has brought plenty of excitement to teams around the county.
“We still can’t do anything except throwing and conditioning but it definitely feels a little different,” Tallassee softball coach Pat Love said. “It puts a little more energy out there. The girls are really eager to get started.”
The Tigers fell one win short of the state tournament last season but they bring most of that group back so they’re wasting no time getting back to work. Love said everyone already knows their role and that helps get things started more quickly in the preseason.
“These girls know what the expectations are,” Love said. “They only have one expectation and it’s to win state. They are ready to get to work.”
Tallassee has a high bar set for itself but the players know there is still plenty of work to do before getting there. Love said he has seen a shift in mindset this week as the players push to get their bodies ready for the start of the season.
“Our biggest goal is just to all the arms in good shape,” Love said. “We want to get them stretched out so we don’t have any soreness because once practice starts, we want to get straight into team defense.”
Tallassee baseball coach Adam Clayton is also making sure his players know the importance of the throwing period.
“The state put this in a few years back to make sure pitchers have their arms ready for the season,” Clayton said. “It gives them some time in the bullpen to start building up on their pitch count to lower that risk in the first games. This time is very important to us.”
On top of getting in good shape, Clayton said the Tigers will be using the throwing period as a time to evaluate their pitching rotation. Jacob Dantro and Jacob Ingram are both returning with some experience on the mound but Tallassee’s top two players in innings pitched last season are gone and the Tigers need to build some depth.
“We have a couple of guys coming back with a lot of experience so we know what they are capable of,” Clayton said. “But we may need to see some other guys step up and that starts now.”
Clayton said the Tigers are focused on the throwing and conditioning part of the game now but they are still working 5-on-1 drills to finish practice. Despite not much changing in the practice routine, Clayton said he has seen a new energy level since the Tigers started their team workouts Tuesday.
“All three teams are out with us at the same time now,” Clayton said. “We have a few guys still in basketball or wrestling but having all three teams out there is exciting.”