Prep notebook: Saukees benefit from practicing with wood bats

Posted: Mar. 28, 2013 3:14 am Updated: Apr. 18, 2013 4:15 am

Herald-Whig Sports Writer

Saukees bringing the wood

Pittsfield baseball coach John Schultz blames himself for Pittsfield's baseball team not hitting well last season. When the weather was nice last season, the Saukees didn't get as much practice in because they were playing games. This season, Pittsfield started practicing five weeks ago and is now off to a 3-0 start.

During early practices, the Saukees were practicing hitting with cheap wood bats, which Schultz said helps his team once they put aluminum bats in their hands.

"Last year, we didn't hit really well with this same bunch. I blame myself for that," Schultz said. "The weather got warm quickly. And (now) we're set up inside where they can get 250 to 300 swings an evening at stations and things. By going outside, they were probably getting a bag of balls or about 24 a day. We're into our fifth week of practice right now, and we've got in a lot more quality swings and teaching."

Laying down the Law

Brown County freshman Blake Law picked up his first varsity win on the mound during the Hornets' 11-1 win over Pleasant Hill on March 19. There was little about Law's demeanor that was tentative as he tossed three scoreless innings to pick up the win.

"I felt pretty confident," Law said. "I just had to do what I've been doing for the past few years. I wanted to win and look good for the team."

Brown County is 2-0, and coach Jared Hoots believes Law provides the Hornets with solid depth.

"He had a good mound presence for a freshman making his first start," Hoots said. "We got a few things mechanically fixed after the first inning, and he did a good job after that. He was slow in his delivery, so we set him up differently. He was trying to throw too many perfect pitches."

Hannibal piling up the goals

Attacking opponents with speed has helped the Hannibal girls soccer team get off to a 3-0 start. Hannibal has outscored its opponents 17-0, including wins over Kirksville (10-0), Marshall (3-0) and Canton (4-0).

Defensively, Katherine Allen and Abby Kahn have stepped up to help keep opponents off the board.

Lady Pirates coach Eric Hill said he has given the midfielders more assignments, and they have responded well.

"Our defense has done a solid job for us," Hill said. "I've been a little bit surprised and happy with the work of our offense. The midfield has been controlling play, giving us width and speed on the outside. That's an added dimension to our attack we haven't had the past few years."

Utilizing that speed has been a key ingredient to the Hannibal's success, especially on turf fields. Forward Bri Johnson felt like the Lady Pirates struggled a bit Friday on grass against Canton.

"This year, we are a very fast team offensively and defensively," Johnson said. "This is the quickest team I've seen. Playing on the grass slows us down. It challenges our first touch and passing ability."


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