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Commanders 'show improvement' in Florida Beach Bash

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By John Overby

After going 1-1 in their first two games at the Florida Beach Bash, Washington County Commander head coach Derek Schuler told his team to take the time and appreciate the opportunity that they had to play baseball in Florida.

And, according to Schuler, the team showed that they had taken that advice to heart, putting together two of their top performances of the season in WC’s next two contests.

Against the Fairdale Bulldogs, the Commanders jumped out to a 6-0 lead by the second inning.

Despite the hot start, WC’s lead slowly began to dwindle away, with the Bulldogs making it a contest before ultimately falling 10-9.

Sophomore Trae Coulter started on the mound for the Ccommanders and threw 130 pitches in the contest. Coulter was able to finish the game and pick up the win.

On the next day, the Commanders faced off against the Tippecanoe Red Devils (Ohio).

Although WC lost 13-10, Schuler said he was proud of his team’s performance because of how talented Tippecanoe is.

“You never want to lose, but I was very pleased with that game,” Schuler said. “Tippecanoe is a big school. They have guys that get drafted, guys that go to (NCAA Division 1) schools. But we battled and fought, and we were in the game the whole time.

Freshman Michael Chastain got the start on the mound.

Schuler felt “really good” about how much improvement he had seen from his team before their final contest of the event.

But things got out of hand quickly in their matchup with the Wayne Warriors (Ohio).

The team lost 11-0 in a five-inning shortened contest, but despite the letdown, Schuler was proud of the overall performance he saw from his team.

“With all the distractions, being down in Florida and to play the way they did for those first four days, I’m very proud of them,” Schuler said. “We took a few steps forward.”

He was especially happy about his team’s showing at the plate during their road trip.

He noted the improved plate performances of junior Justin Shelton, senior Adam Smith, Chastain and junior Christopher Mann in particular.

“We had a few guys that started swinging the bat,” Schuler said.

Each team in the Florida Beach Bash named two players “Most Outstanding Individual Performer.” WC’s athletes were Coulter and senior Trais Mattingly

After the team’s long trek back to Washington County last weekend, Schuler told his team to take their minds off of baseball until their games start this week.

“We just played a lot of games in a short amount of time,” Schuler said. “They deserved a little break from baseball.”