Rookies look to improve base-running for tourney

Published 1:35 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Base-running was the clear weakness for the Troy Ozone Rookie team during the district tournament. With the state tournament just two days away, head coach Josh Prestwood believes it will no longer be an issue.

Despite the struggles running from base to base, the Rookies did finish as the district runner-up, locking up a spot in the state tournament in Tuscaloosa.

“The basics cost us,” Prestwood said. “Base-running was about it. We got picked off three times. We have been working on pitching and throwing strikes. Hitting is coming, we hit the ball decently at District, but it’s getting better.”

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In the final two games of the district tournament, Troy was picked off a total of six times, including two in the third inning when Troy had an opportunity to stretch their lead.

During practice, Prestwood has kept things simple when it comes to learning the art of base-running.

“I just get a pitcher and we get a leadoff,” Prestwood said. “They make their mind on what they are going to do. I have kids not watching their (pitcher’s) feet. If he steps off with his right foot then get back. Some of us aren’t doing that. We have gone over it a thousand times.”

One area of strength for the Rookies has been the pitching staff so far in 2017. Led by Jackson Cleveland, the rotation also consists of Bradley and Braden Prestwood.

Bradley Prestwood is coming off an arm injury that hampered him during the district tournament. Peyton Stamey will also get a chance to log some innings.

“I think we are pretty good,” Cleveland said. “We are working on control and throwing strikes.

If he gets one more arm to step up, Prestwood believes his pitching staff could be the x-factor come time for the state tournament.

“I need two people to come to me wanting to pitch,” Prestwood said. “I think I will. Peyton Stamey and Houston Gunter will pick up the slack if I need it. I need that pitcher, when we get a big lead, to come in and save them.”

The Rookies will bring along an offense that has been very balanced so far this summer, and Prestwood hopes it’s something that will continue.

“Nobody on the team is better than anybody else,” Prestwood said. “If we hit the ball like we can, we will be tough to beat.”

With just two days until the start of the state tournament, the confidence is high for the Troy Ozone Rookies.

“I think we can win state,” Cleveland said. “We just need to work more on our pitching and our hitting.”

Troy will take on Moulton at 5:30 on Thursday on field three in Tuscaloosa.