Springwood baseball sees improvement heading into second half of season

Published 11:00 am Saturday, March 18, 2023

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Springwood varsity baseball started the season on a rough note with a 13-2 loss to Edgewood Academy and an 11-4 loss to LaFayette Christian.

The Wildcats earned their first win with a 7-6 walk-off win over Hooper, but Springwood still struggled with both pitching and batting.

That was back in February.

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Come March, the Wildcats are 6-6 and just won three straight games against Valiant Cross by a total score of 45-14.

It’s been a long road for Springwood, but head coach David Hudson knew there were some growing pains.

“A lot of it is due to the offensive side of it,” Hudson said.

“We didn’t have a place to hit. Our batting cage was done two weeks into the season due to weather. The weather was bad in January. We had 10 inches of rain, so that prevented us from getting on the field. We weren’t able to take the swings we needed at the start of the year. We’ve been playing catch up. We’re not where we need to be, but we’re getting a lot better. We’re hitting a lot better. We should progress as time goes on.”

Springwood is now getting the necessary reps to start winning games in the middle of the season.

“There’s only so much you can do hitting off the team,” Hudson said.

“We hit when we could on the field, but you have to run through 12 kids. You’re limited to the number of swings they’re going to take. The kids have responded well by working a lot on their own. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault but the weather.”

Springwood has struggled to find stability with the pitching rotation, but Hudson feels like his pitchers are finally coming into their own.

“We’ve had a couple bad games as far as errors go,” Hudson said.

“We haven’t been very smart with the baseball. They’re getting the grasp of making routine plays on defense. Let’s not try to throw the ball around. Let’s get outs when we need them.”

Defensively, Springwood also struggled with allowing too many steals.

Hudson is seeing improvement on that end as well.

“The kids are getting in a rhythm when pitching,” Hudson said.

“It’s been a big issue for us, but it’s getting a little better. The main thing is throwing strikes. You can’t give everybody a free pass. We’re not trying to do too much but tweak a few things. We have to get them to trust themselves to throw strikes.”

When his pitchers aren’t doing well, Hudson tries to calm them down.

“I take a very different approach,” Hudson said.

“I’m very gentle. I go out there and try to get their mind off it. There are a lot of different ways I do it. When I go out there for a mound visit, sometimes I’ll ask them what they’re having for dinner. I try to lighten it up to take the pressure off them.”

Springwood will now prepare for the second half of the season where area play starts to heat up.

The Wildcats will have to play Abbeville on Monday at home, but Springwood still needs to improve.

“We’re slowly finding our identity as a team,” Hudson said.

“This last week really helped us. We struggled against Valiant Cross in the first game. We ended up winning convincingly, but we had to do it in the last inning. I think that made the kids realize that they can do this. We took care of business with the doubleheader Tuesday. I saw a big change. The bats have come alive. The base running has gotten a lot better mentally. We’re slowly putting things together.”

Springwood’s batting will have to be strong against a good Abbeville team.

“I think they have a really good pitching staff and defense,” Hudson said.

“We made a ton of errors when we were down there last year. I told the kids that if we could throw strikes and clean up our errors we’ll be fine. It’ll be a really good test for us to see how much we’ve grown. Ever since the Chambers Academy game, the kids have responded well. We’re going to take it one game at a time.”