It hasn’t been too long since Andrew Roberson, 24, was playing baseball for the Conway Christian Eagles instead of coaching them.
A 2007 graduate of the school, he is defensive coordinator for the football team and is coaching baseball for the first time this year.
“I’ve been around the players for a while because most of the baseball players play football as well,” he said.
Roberson said that when he was in school, the baseball team was in a private-school conference, not the Arkansas Activities Association.
“My senior year, we won the state championship in that conference,” he said.
He knows what it’s like to win, and that’s his goal.
Roberson said his philosophy is a little different than some coaches.
It’s not enough to say practice makes perfect, Roberson said.
“What I emphasize is perfect practice makes perfect,” he said.
If techniques are done correctly in practice, players will be more likely to do well in games, Roberson said.
“We go in and try to have a perfect practice day in and day out,” he said.
Last year, Roberson said, the team made it to the state tournament, losing to Woodlawn in the first round.
Experience counts, and this year the team has it, he said.
Best Hitter for Average: Roberson said senior Andrew Dather’s batting average was more than .400 in the district and regional tournaments last year, “so hopefully he can keep that hot streak alive and everything, but it’ll be difficult, considering he plays football and basketball. It will take him awhile to get in the swing of things. He just signed with Harding University to play wide receiver there. He is a very talented individual.”
Best Power Hitter: Tanner Stevenson, a senior. “Tanner, he’s a solid hitter,” Roberson said. “He’ll go up there very confident … and stroke the ball, and when he gets ahold of one, it’ll definitely go a ways.” Roberson said the senior, 6-3, 190 pounds, signed with the University of Central Arkansas Bears to play quarterback.
Best Speed: Roberson said sophomore Casey Roark is “extremely fast.”
Best Fielder: The two players Roberson mentioned are junior Chandler Ferrand and senior Brandon Helms. “[Helms] is a good leader. He’s always level-headed,” Roberson said. “He’s just a good example for the other boys to follow.”
Best Arm: Roberson said the strength of the team is its pitchers, including Dather, Ferrand, Stevenson and Josiah Smith, a sophomore. However, Smith is coming off an ACL injury from football. “He should be ready to go by conference games,” Roberson said.
Roberson said the team is experienced — 11 out of 17 players are returning — so he has confidence about the season being successful.
“I think we have a great opportunity to do extremely well in our conference,” he said. “We have a seasoned team, definitely. They’re experienced. Once they hit their stride, we’re going to be a good defensive team. If we have a weak spot, it’s going to be our bats. We’ve got to get our bats going. The first and foremost thing is to go out and win conference and eventually make it to the state finals and exceed what our boys did last year.”