Van Buren baseball coach David Loyd has coached long enough to know the difference. Young teams benefit from practice — and from live experience.
The Pointers, who are scheduled to face Wister today, are currently 5-5 and 1-1 in the 7A/6A-Central. Van Buren plays Russellville on Friday and has a key 7A game with Catholic next week.
"Obviously, there’s a little more emphasis with the 7A schools; they know those are the games you have to win to go to the state tournament," Loyd said. "We just need play; I wish we were playing every day. We have a young team, and the best way for them to learn to play."
The Pointers have played six one run games — winning some closes one and losing some, too.
"You’d like to win the majority of those," Loyd said. "(But) I’ve been really pleased with our pitching. We’re getting better defensively, too. We’ve just gotta come around start scoring some more runs; that’s where we’re struggling right now."
By his count, Alma coach Kevin Edwards believes the Airedales are a much better than their 6-7 record indicates.
"Really, we should be 9-and-4, honestly," Edwards said. "We’ve had several games where we had a lead and gave up some unearned runs. If you can piece defense and pitching in high school, you should be able to manufacture some wins."
Senior Dylan Brown has been solid, smacking three homers and two doubles. Dillon Majors, whose averaged had dipped to .105, has since raised his batting average to .323.
Junior Lane Caldwell leads the team in hitting with a .407 average.
"He’s worked his way up the lineup," Edwards said. "He doesn’t do anything flashy; I think he has one extra base hit. But he puts the ball in play, and he hits it hard."
Brayden Johnson and Parker Edwards have also pitched well.
"We’ve had some young guys step up on the mound that’s been a surprise," Edwards said. "(But) we have to get to where we’re not making five or six errors."