Hulbert baseball’s summer league had just five games due to vacations, summer employment, and hail storms. Coach John Rozell considers the summer a success.
Rozell stated progress was good. Summer league is merely practice. We had more different pitchers than in the spring. It helped. We need everyone to play and get reps. Guys were relaxed, having fun, and playing outstanding defense.”
Rozell said the summer league’s purpose was to make next year’s squad comfortable playing together.
It will benefit much. “It’s about them as a team, being in the dugout together, just getting more comfortable,” said Rozell. “That’s how you build comradery—you play more for the guy next to you. We didn’t have an issue with it, but it wasn’t a significant asset this season. This summer helps with that.”
Defense plagued the Riders all season. The Riders could compete at the plate and on the mound, but their defense let them down.
Rozell witnessed a big improvement from autumn to summer league.
Rozell felt defense improved the most. “Spring plays killed us. After a highlight play, we wouldn’t play. Summer mistakes were rare. I’m optimistic.”
The Riders also hit well all summer.
“Everyone played great,” stated Rozell. “Those guys swung the bat well, more consistent, more productive at-bats.”
Hulbert’s junior high squad will finish its season in June. Riders are 4-1 after beating Muskogee and Hilldale. Rozell calls beating bigger teams “big.”
Rozell has overhauled his pitching staff. Rozell extended his pitchers’ innings.
“We did what our high school did this year,” stated Rozell. We changed pitchers every inning. I took control and let go this summer. Reps and getting the kids on the field are what we have at high school.”
Rozell can start teambuilding with junior high youngsters.
“I don’t want to say the junior high is more important but it is just as important,” said Rozell. “If I have these junior high kids four to six years, we should build something special. We’re aiming to win since we didn’t focus in spring. We’ll compete, improve, and finish strong.”
Rozell ran a 20-person summer camp. Rozell appreciated the unexpected community support.