WC baseball starts this week

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By John Overby

With the Washington County Commander baseball team coming off of a disappointing 16-17 season last year, head coach Derek Schuler has high hopes that his team can turn the corner and he can guide his ball club to a winning record.

To do so, Schuler first must find a way to replace the experience that the Commanders lost on the pitching mound. Last season, his team relied heavily on Thomas Spaulding and Will Begley in this department, both of whom graduated last May.

The only pitcher with significant in-game experience that Schuler returns is senior Travis Mattingly.

But Schuler will turn to several other key players to help pick up the load on the mound, including Adam Smith, Jacob Howard, Wade Moore and Trey Coulter.

“We’re going to need some guys to step up for us who don’t have a lot of pitching experience,” Schuler said. “That will be our biggest question mark this year, to see how we come out and do that.”

While pitching could be the team’s biggest weakness, Schuler believes the Commanders will be able to help settle the new pitchers in by fielding a strong defense behind them.

“We’ve got a good group that works really hard,” Schuler said. “Being defensively strong, you hope that will help when our pitching or batting lacks. Focusing on the fundamentals should help our team tremendously.”

With only three seniors for WC (Mattingly, Smith and newcomer Thomas Pettus), Schuler will lean on a junior class that includes 12 players, along with multiple underclassmen.

And with such a young team, Schuler said that he will focus on staying positive and “becoming a lot better by May than we were in March.”

“I talked to the team about being able to overcome any early growing pains we might have,” Schuler said. “This group has worked harder in the offseason than any other group we’ve ever had. We’ve seen a great work ethic from our guys, and that’s only going to help us when it gets late in the season.”

Schuler noted that his team’s goals are the same this season as they are every year: He looks for the Commanders to finish above .500, win the district title and win Class-A 5th Region.

“It should be a fun season,” Schuler said. “We just need some guys to realize that this is their team now and step up for us.”

The Commanders start their season this evening when they travel to play the Moore Mustangs in Louisville.