By: Taylor Rigney
After a successful 2009-2010 season, the OGHS baseball team is gearing up for another promising year. The team has, as always, been hard at work, practicing up to 20 hours a week in order to deliver Oak Grove fans and supporters the exciting competition they have come to expect over the years.
Not surprisingly, the coaches and players unanimously included past rivals, such as Madison Central, Petal, Clinton, and Sumrall, when asked about the team’s stiffest competition for this season. “Our schedule is full of very competitive teams,” Head Coach McCardle said. Last year, Oak Grove shocked the community by ending Sumrall’s 67-game winning streak–a victory that merits no less boasting amongst Oak Grove fans even a year later.
The team hasn’t let that triumph go to their heads, though. They have continued to strive for perfection through hours of practice. “We practice hard,” McCardle said, and senior Ryan Best assured that the players “focus on what needs to be done.”
Many of the players agree that the team has some areas that still need work, but Coach McCardle said he is confident that the team will make the needed adjustments. As is custom of Oak Grove athletes, the boys are eager to step up to the plate. “We have a lot of young guys who can hit and are anxious to swing the bat,” senior John Mark Weldy said.
Along with this new group of eager young players comes some promising improvement since last year. Ryan Best consented that the team has improved in both offense and defense since the previous season.
Coach McCardle highlighted a handful of boys that fans can be excited to see out on the field. “We are expecting big things from Tyler Odom, Cort Brinson, Drew Standland, and Ryan Best,” he said. “We have a lot of guys that can do a lot of good for the team this season,” Weldy agreed.
When asked about his goals for the season, one of the proposed star players took an admirable step up. “I want to be a great leader,” Best said. Coach McCardle had a more concrete goal in mind: “Our goal is, as always, to win a state championship,” he said.
And if the team’s performance thus far is any indication of its success later in the season, fans can remain hopeful for a state championship title. The boys have done remarkably well in pre-season tournaments and scrimmages and are scheduled to play in the Lamar County Tournament this weekend, where they will go head-to-head with close-to-home rivals from Sumrall and Purvis.
The baseball team is scheduled to play its first regular-season game against Hattiesburg at home on March 8th, and John Mark Weldy assured that the team will “practice hard and work on the areas [it] needs to improve on in order to be as competitive and flawless as [the team] can be.”