Following the program’s first postseason appearance last season, enthusiasm is sky high for the Apalachee High School baseball team.
Wildcat players have been working since August for the 2020 season, which is now just a little more than a month away. Players and coaches are excited about the potential of the upcoming campaign.
“It will be here before you know it,” said Allan Bailey, now in his fourth season directing the Diamond Cats. “We have had a great offseason. When I took the softball job, one of the things I didn’t want to happen was for the baseball offseason program to fall off. Having a great offseason has us ready to get going again.”
Players began work in August and then played 15 games as part of the Game Time League. Bailey praised the level of competition in the league and while the AHS coaches could not be with the team, he noted the experience for the players was valuable.
“It helped our players stay sharp and focused,” Bailey said.
The AHS coach stressed the importance of conditioning in the weight room to get mentally and physically tougher and stronger. A friendly competition even exists between the different AHS athletic teams.
Players also recently completed speed and agility training often dealing with less-than-desirable weather conditions.
“This has been the best group we’ve had to go through it,” Bailey said. “It’s not that they enjoy it necessarily, but they have embraced it. Our senior class has been with me their entire careers and they know what we want to get done.”
AHS made the postseason for the first time in 2019, and in looking back Bailey said players and coaches still believe the Wildcats should have won their first-round state playoff series at Alexander which went to three games. AHS held the lead in Game 3 going into the sixth inning.
“Coaches always say to trust the process, but at some point the process has to produce something,” Bailey said. “Our players know we can get to the postseason now. They are staying hungry. We want to get back and win in the playoffs.”
The Diamond Cats have two of their three starting pitchers back for the new season. Building pitching depth has been a focus going into the new season.
Bailey said it takes four, five and even six quality pitchers to be able to compete in the postseason.
“We are working to develop more pitching,” he said.
AHS will have a preseason scrimmage on Wednesday, Feb. 5, against Alcovy on the road before opening the regular season Monday, Feb. 10, at Jackson County.
The Wildcats will play each GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA foe three times for a 15-game slate.