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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • Dunlap Eagles ready to start 2012 baseball season

  • The Dunlap Eagle baseball team is ready to soar into the 2012 season. “First and foremost I want us to understand what our philosophy is as a Dunlap baseball player, and work on building our skills in that area” coach Rod Hatch said. “I would like to see that number in the win column go up ...
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  • The Dunlap Eagle baseball team is ready to soar into the 2012 season.
    “First and foremost I want us to understand what our philosophy is as a Dunlap baseball player, and work on building our skills in that area” coach Rod Hatch said. “I would like to see that number in the win column go up from last year as we mold these guys not only as players, but helping them mature as young men.
    “We also want to improve our Mid-Illini Conference play.”
    The team was led in the 2011 season by Daniel Clements, Logan Schrader, Brandon Drum, Blake Abbot, Kyle Steinmann, David Babcock, Grant Murphy and Joseph Puetz.
    This year’s seniors are  pitcher, shortstop and outfielder Derrick Smith, pitcher, third baseman and first baseman Brandon Scroggins,  catcher and third baseman Conner Currier and pitcher, outfielder and first baseman Nick Mangieri.
    “I expect a lot from them in terms of leadership,” Hatch said. “They know our signs and what we do on the field so I expect them to help the juniors throughout the process.”
    Complementing the strong senior class is a group of underclass players who should bolster the roster.
    “With the underclassmen, you have five guys who are going to have to jump in right away and contribute to our team,” Hatch said. “So far, I’m very pleased with the chemistry.
    “Sometimes when you mix two classes, you never know what you’ll get but they’ve blended well.”
    That class of young players should bode well for the future of the program.
    “I think sometimes people use youth as a reason when they are looking for a weakness,” Hatch said. “But I think our youth is a strength. These guys are getting good experience early.”
    Last season came to an end for the Eagles when they fell to Notre Dame, 2-1, in the Regional championship game and finished with an 18-14 record.
    “It was a tough game,” Hatch said. “It was a good game to watch, but not a good game to lose.
    “I think we were on fire at the end of the season and that’s obviously the best time to be clicking. Hopefully we can build on that.”
    To make it further this season, the team will need to play smart and work on basics.
    “We are going to have to be smart in the way we approach the game in terms of fielders,” Hatch said. “I anticipate that we will see the bunt a lot.
    “I think mainly we need to work on fundamentals. I’m big on the little things. If you take care of the little things, then the big things will take care of themselves.”
    Page 2 of 2 - When the team steps up to the plate, moving runners over and bringing runs in will be the key.
    “Offensively, we are looking to put the ball in play,” Hatch said. “I’d like to see the ball hit hard on the line or in the gap somewhere. I’m looking on playing a little more small ball this year. We also know we are going to have to try to steal more bases.”
    Out in the field, the players may not let too much squeak by them.
    “Defensively, I feel we’re going to be pretty solid,” Hatch said. “I like what I see so far. Guys are making plays where they need to make plays and some guys are making plays where we haven’t expected them to make plays already.”
    The team started the season Saturday at Richwoods.
    The team next plays at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday at Roanoke-Benson.

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