FERNDALE — There’s nothing unique about this approach or mindset. It’s been a part of baseball as long as bats and balls have. Still, if there’s anything, or one thing, for that matter, that Ferndale High coach John Sibula is stressing as the 2014 season gets going, it’s defense.
Defense, defense and more defense.
A year ago, his guys went 7-9, but “four or five” of those nine setbacks, he said, were games given away by mistakes on the defensive side of things.
“Too many times, we made our pitchers work extra, gave away outs,” Sibula said. “That’s what we have to correct this season, and that’s where most of our focus is. We’re going to hit the ball, and we’re strong, as far as pitching is concerned.”
So, make the routine plays, and the win total will go up.
“It got frustrating, losing games we knew we should have won,” said senior third baseman Treavor Laundry. “It was simple things, too. Plays we should have made.”
Looking back on the mishaps won’t do much good for the Eagles now, but learning from them is what the team has vowed to do in 2014 — whenever the games actually start.
“It’s been difficult to do a ton,” Sibula said. He spoke before an April 2 practice at the school, just his team’s second time outside this spring. “But we’re in the same boat with almost every team. We’re a work in progress, but we’re working at it.”
The urgency to improve is understandable, given the potential Ferndale holds.
Sibula said he has “six legitimate arms” that will fuel his pitching staff.
“We’re going to be strong on the mound,” he added. “We have guys that are going to throw strikes. I think it’s a group that will keep us in every game we play.”
And with most of the roster back from 2013, the offense figures to be strong again.
“We’re going to be better this year,” senior catcher Justin Hammerle vowed. “We’ve got some new kids that are stepping up, and as seniors, we all know the importance of this season. It’s our last shot at it.”
Until the games start, and continue on a regular basis, Sibula said it will be defensive repetitions that dominate practice, indoors or out.
“I’m confident these guys can be better,” he said. “They know what to expect. They have the talent to be a very good team.”
“We feel we’re about to go out and win a league title,” Hammerle boasted. “Why not? Put my name on that. I believe it. I think we have the talent to go win a state title.”