By Lena Wilson
Although the baseball season does not begin until spring, boys decked out in cleats and caps are already wandering through the sophomore lot toward the field on weekdays after school. With preseason in full swing, East baseball coach Phil Woodell reflected on the team’s expected strengths and needs. The expected turnout has been a mix of old and new, of veteran players and fresh talent. Thus, some areas of the field are ready-made from the previous year whereas others are up for grabs.
“We’re returning a great deal of pitching,” Woodell said.
Defensive positions such as shortstop and catcher, however, will be determined after try-outs.
New this year, the baseball team will be affected by the National Federation of State High School Associations on bats. East will have to set aside its reliable old composite aluminum bats in favor of new Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) certified bats. These new bats have a smaller sweet spot than composite aluminum bats, making for fewer hard-hit balls and fewer home runs.
To make up for this change, Woodell hopes to focus the team on improving their hitting. All high schools will have to follow the new standard starting this year, so East learning not to rely on the easier bats will give them a distinct advantage.
Of course, the team has high hopes for the championship.
“Obviously we’d like to finish higher than third,” Woodell said, referencing last year’s solid ranking.