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Barnes hopes to lead Bulldogs to success in year two

The Pike County Bulldogs baseball team is set to begin year two under head coach Taylor Barnes on Monday.

The Bulldogs, like most teams throughout the state, have been able to do light workouts over the last two weeks, but Monday will mark the official beginning of practice.

“It’s going good,” Barnes said. “The guys are getting their arms ready for the season. We used this time to do some character-building stuff as well. We’re trying to establish a team culture and bonding. Hopefully it will stick.”
The Bulldogs have about 30 players on this year’s roster that they will split between varsity and junior varsity.

Barnes was thrown into the mix last year and had to get to know his players and establish a culture fairly quickly. Nearly one year later, Barnes is still getting to know his players, but with one year’s worth of experience under his belt

“This time last year the players were still getting to know me,” Barnes said. “We were trying to establish a culture right off the bat. This year, we have returning guys that have been in this program and they know what is expected of them. We are building on what we have already established and I believe we have guys that have bought in.”

Even though things may change on the field during practice in year two, the mission of the team and program will not change

“Our focus in year two is to continue to build athletes and baseball players,” Barnes said. “As coaches, we are going to help these players whenever we can. One of the many of the questions we ask them is ‘What is next after high school?’ We want to find out how we can help them. We are big on having them set goals for themselves. Not only athletically, but in school and in life in general.”

When practice officially picks up on Monday, Barnes expects to see intensity and hustle.

“Full go,” Barnes said. “We want to practice with a lot of intensity. My theory is if we can sweat enough during practice, then we don’t have to condition too much after practice. We don’t like a lot of down time. We want to go full speed in everything that we are doing.”

That mindset has helped create the acronym of the season for coach Barnes and the Bulldogs.

“A.C.E,” Barnes said. “A is attitude, the C is character and the E is enthusiasm. As a program, if we focus on those three things and apply it to everything in life, then we are going to be successful.”

The Bulldogs lost six starters off last season’s team, so there will be competitions for open spots in the field early this spring.

“We are going to look very different than we did last season,” Barnes said. “We have three returning guys. It’s going to be a very competitive early part of the season to see who is going to win those starting roles. We have some young guys that are hungry and competitive. They are going to be battling their tails off for certain spots.”

The Bulldogs will officially begin their season on February 19 when they host Zion Chapel.