Coach Brandon Bates believes the Hot Springs High School baseball team is ready to take a big step forward this year, becoming more competitive in the 5A South.
“The last few years, we have not been a solid baseball school,” he said. “In the past, we have dropped some games under the 10-run rule, but we have been going the full seven innings, and we are winning most of the games we are supposed to win. We are getting better.”
The basketball schedule kept some of his players from working with the team during the offseason.
“There are four starters still on the court,” Bates said late in February. “If they get into the playoffs, they will be out even longer.”
The Trojans are getting a boost from players who come to the team from around the state to attend the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts in Hot Springs.
“Students from the school play their athletics with us, so we have one senior and four juniors from ASMSA,” the coach said.
Best Average: “Our best contact hitter is David Brown, a junior at ASMSA,” coach Bates said. “He was at Greers Ferry West Side.”
Best Hitter for Average: Rolando Johnson, a senior catcher, is a left-handed hitter with “some pop on the ball,” the coach said. Johnson started as a freshman but was unable to play in the 2012 season after being hit on the football field in fall 2011.
Best Power Hitter: “We don’t have a lot of power, but that is not the way we play,” Bates said. “We are a small ball team; that fits our crackerjack box of a ball field. Our game is to get ’em on and get ’em over.”
Best Fielder: Bryan Rosburg, a sophomore, will anchor the hot corner for the Trojans. Bates said Rosburg is a consistent third baseman with a strong arm. Josh Herrington, a junior from ASMSA who will play some third and in the middle of the infield for the Trojans, is also a good fielder and is expected to pitch some as well.
Best Arm: “Our No. 1 pitcher is expected to be senior Michael Webb,” Bates said. “He was the best pitcher last year and went 4-6, but he was always going against our strongest opposition. He has a fastball, curve and changeup that will keep the hitters off balance.”
Another student from ASMSA expected to have an impact on the Trojan lineup is Greth Strout, a junior. “He is a closer type who gives 100 percent on every pitch,” Bates said. “We would like to see him also become a starter, but we will have to tune him down a bit to stretch him out for four or five innings. He still wants to strike out everybody, and he will need to ease up on the pitch count.”
With schools like Watson Chapel, White Hall, Hope and Camden Fairview in the region, Bates said, it is going to be hard to make the playoffs.
“We will try for the four spot, but we will have to win some of those games we are not supposed to win,” he said. “We are playing hard and getting competitive, and that is all that matters.”