Entering the 2018 season, expectations were high for Sherman baseball after winning 21 games, finishing second in District 5-5A and pushing state finalist Grapevine in the area round.
With the dust of tournament play settling, things haven’t gone according to plan as the Bearcats find themselves with a 2-10 record.
“We’ll never make any excuses for anything,” Sherman head coach Justin Jennings said. “We should have been better and done better. We just haven’t up until this point and there’s been many factors that have led to that.”
Jennings cites a number of injuries, poor defensive play and a tough schedule as some of the factors that have contributed to Sherman’s slow start. The Bearcats lost their first 10 and it wasn’t until Friday night that the broke through for their first wins of the season.
Sherman defeated Cedar Hill (10-7) on Friday and followed it up with a win over Sanger (6-2) in the Grayson County Classic.
“It definitely brings up the morale around here,” said junior pitcher/shortstop Nick Blankenship on the two wins. “I know we were pretty down on ourselves and the two wins definitely helped us with some confidence.”
“It’s huge for us to get a couple of wins,” Jennings said. “We knew at some point we were going to win, we just weren’t sure how long it was going to take.”
Jennings said that the injuries have forced him to adjust his lineup with multiple starters playing their first season of varsity baseball.
With the shuffling lineups, it’s created opportunities for younger players like Blankenship and sophomore catcher Ethan Bedgood to step in and provide a spark. Both players were singled out by Jennings as ones who have played well.
“We’ve gotten some guys going at the right time and the younger guys have done a good job of stepping up,” he said of his younger lineup. “It’s been good to see.”
The Bearcats have a chance to hit the reset button as they begin district play this week under a new format. District 5-5A will now play a weekly series against the same opponent: one game at home and one on the road as opposed to a true round-robin.
It’s a welcome change for players and coaches alike.
“I like it a lot better because it gives us an opportunity to face their top two pitchers,” Bedgood said. “I think it will make it more competitive and show who has the best team.”
“I was the one that brought it up in our district meeting,” Jennings said, “We wanted to try and even the playing field as much as possible. You get to see everybody twice in one week and it puts a little bit more on each club to focus on one team.”
Waiting on deck for the Bearcats this week is the defending district champion Wichita Falls Rider. The Bearcats will play on the road Tuesday and return to Veterans Field on Friday at 7:30 p.m. to face the Raiders again.
Coming off their first two wins of the year, the Bearcats are looking forward to a fresh start and extra motivation facing the only team to beat them in district play last season.
“If we come out and win the first two games, it gives us a great opportunity to carry that momentum into the rest of district play,” Bedgood said.
“We talked this weekend about how there needed to be a heightened sense of awareness,” Jennings said on their district opener. “Rider was the only district team that beat us last year so they’ll be ready to go. We’ve gotten better over the last two weekends and even when he had our setbacks, we’ve played better and we’re looking forward to going over there.”