From the Dugout: Season Review

From the Dugout: Season Review

The Red Hawks baseball team ended the season with another win streak claiming the last 10 of 11 game and cranking out some outstanding offensive numbers for the regular season.  The Red Hawks were in the top 50 of 11 offensive categories, in the top 25 in 7 and were sixth in the nation with 113 doubles.

The Red Hawks offense was able to put up a team batting average of .328 (30th in the nation) with a .420 on base percentage (37th in the nation) and a slugging percentage of .504 (16th in the nation).  The Red Hawks posted 504 hits (21st in the nation) while hitting 41 homeruns (18th in the nation), 17 triples (27th in the nation) and 113 doubles (6th in the nation).  The Red Hawks drew 213 walks (23rd in the nation) and stole 77 bases (44th in the nation). Scoring was not a problem for the Red Hawks who scored 372 runs (24th in the nation) and 320 runs batted in (25th in the nation).

The Red Hawks will enter the Region X/Southeast District Tournament as the #4 seed, finishing 3rd in Region X but is jumped by Pasco-Hernando SC (Florida) who enters the tournament as the 3rd seed.

As the Red Hawks prepare to head out on Thursday we sat down with Head Coach, Paul Rozzelle, to reflect on the season and look towards the tournament.

When we last spoke, the team was a game under .500 (21-22) but you felt confident that we were getting ready to see some good baseball and you were right (won 7 of the next 8).  Talk about this little run you guys went on to finish out the season…

"Our guys have responded nicely to the challenges we have laid in front of them as we head down the final stretch.  In this game, you need to be playing well at the right time in all facets of the game.  We have had teams here in the past that were unstoppable early and fizzled out by year's end.  Unfortunately, for those guys, they do not give out trophies for hot starts in February.  It's about how you play coming into and during the Regional Tournament.  Are we where we want to be?  I don't think any coach could ever answer that question with a 100% yes but I sure feel a whole heck of a lot better than I did a month ago.  This team has showed flashes of brilliance and at other times looked like they have never seen a baseball before.  All of that is a part of having a young team but I really feel like we will be ready to head into Burlington and give these teams the best shot we can."

You mention the ups and downs of the year, talk about how that has played out over the course of the season…

"Whew buddy.  That's not a loaded question or anything (laughs).  Every season has ups and downs and frankly points where you just don't play very well.  As a coach, your job is to limit those occurrences to be few and far between.  This year we just had more than I ever want to experience again (laughing).  We struggled out of the gate and lost some games that we had won late and when you are sitting there 1-7, guys start to press a little bit which ultimately only makes the situation worse.  Then you start to figure some things out and feel like you turn the corner and then all of a sudden, you are getting smacked around a little bit and it can be frustrating as a coach because you know what you got is better than what they are showing and you just got to keep pressing and keep grinding every day until it turns around.   Learning how to win is hard.  Winning is a process.  It's the work you put in at practice, it's the work you put into being a good teammate, and it's the work you put into being a guy your teammates want to play for.  We say it all the time, players do not and should not play for a coach.  They should play for each other.  When you start to get that, then you start to have something special.  Every group is different and there is not a cookie cut mold that you can put in every year.  The coach has to find out what makes his team go and what he needs to do to get them there.  We think as the season has gone on that we are more there than we have been at any point during this season so that is a plus."

What is it going to take for this team to make a run at Regionals and a chance to get back to the World Series…

"Finally, an easy question (laughs).  We have got to have quality starts.  I do not mean to be so simplistic, but our starting pitchers have to be able to command the strike zone and work into the 6th inning and give us a chance.  I like the way the backend of our bullpen shapes up and I like the way we have hit the baseball really all throughout the year.  Offense can always get better but anyone that watches us pretty much knows we have a chance to put some runs up every game.  Guys like Charles Hall, Aaron Biggerstaff, and Taylor Purus don't necessarily have to be lights out, but they have to be solid.  There are some great arms in this league so this tournament is going to be won on the mound.  Who minimizes the big innings, to me, is who is going to win this tourney.  Instead of giving up 4 runs in a bad inning, can a guy hold it to two?  Which guys can handle a little adversity meaning overcoming an error, or overcoming a bad call here or there?  Those are going to be the things that ultimately, the winner of this thing, will be able to look back and point out where they had the most success." 

Last question, it may only be you second season as Head Coach, but as somebody who has been a part of almost every season since the program started where does this season rank for you …

"I have been telling people here of late that this has been the most challenging, the most frustrating, the most entertaining, and at times the most fun I have had coaching.  This group is extremely talented and has been a challenge to figure out what we have to do as coaches to get them playing the best baseball they can play so its really been a learning experience for myself and the other coaches but you got to love that part about it.  It is not just the players learning, but us as coaches too.  I feel like I have aged 10 years in coaching years just with all we have been through this year (laughing) but I love it.  It has definitely made me try and be a better coach.  Now whether or not it does is neither here nor there.  As Coach Pait used to say, "I do the best I can with what I got" and boy do I understand what that sucker was talking about!  With everything that has happened this year, we have always continued to tell the guys that, "If you can find a way to win 4 or 5 games in May, you can make your entire year" and we plan on giving it our best shot in Burlington this week."