Thursday, March 20, 2014
The early-season struggles for the North Augusta baseball team have stumped Vic Radcliff.
Radcliff, the Jacket’s head coach, has watched his team excel in practice but hasn’t seen the same results in games.
“I look at it, and we have a pretty good senior group that has worked pretty hard, but we’re playing like 5 o’clock players,” he said. “When the lights are on, it’s like everybody is tight and not trusting themselves and not getting things done. I can’t handle that. We’re gonna deal with that.”
North Augusta (2-2, 0-2 Region 5-AAAA) wasn’t able to complete its preseason schedule and faced the defending AAAA state champions in Lexington to start the year.
“I felt like that Tuesday game, against Lexington, we had opportunities, but we didn’t hit the ball,” Radcliff said. “Like I told them, I’m not trying to make no excuses, I know we had two scrimmages rained out and only played one. With all the work we’ve been doing, we should be able to put the ball in play. I wasn’t pleased with that.”
After falling to Lexington 4-2, North Augusta defeated Midland Valley 5-4, fell to White Knoll 10-0 and beat Lakeside 8-5.
The struggles at the plate have flummoxed Radcliff and the players.
“The only reason I can think of is that we put too much pressure on ourselves when game time comes,” Ryan Lark, a senior catcher for the Jackets, said. “(It could be a) lack of focus and poor mentality, too.”
Radcliff said the biggest issue is with his team, not the pitching they have faced.
“I think, right now, the biggest thing with hitting is so much mental,” he said. “It’s a mental thing. We can’t separate a bad at-bat and come back focused. Our kids aren’t doing it. They’ve got the ability. The pitching hasn’t been overpowering, we just aren’t doing the proper things. Our approach at-bat is wrong. We’re pulling off balls, swinging at bad pitches, not doing the things good teams do. The thing that gets me is that we’ve been working on these things; I’ve seen them do it in the batting cages. Then we get in the game, and it’s not happening.”
North Augusta’s trip to South Aiken, which was scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed until May due to a scheduling conflict. Radcliff welcomes the extra practice time, as his team won’t compete again until facing Evans on the road on Saturday.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.