Fundamentals key to Jays’ success, says new coach

With his team picked to finish last in the KCAC with Saint Mary College, first-year Tabor baseball coach John Sparks said his players are excited-and motivated-about being the “cellar dweller” in the conference.

“It’s just an indication of the way we finished the last couple of years,” Sparks said. “There’s no pressure on us, and (the rankings are) up in the locker room as motivation for the guys to see every day. I think we feel like we can do better than we have in the past.”

In order for the Bluejays to be successful, Sparks said his team will have to play fundamental baseball- especially Tabor’s pitching staff.

“We really don’t have anybody who’s going to overpower anybody,” Sparks said. “We only have seven guys on our pitching staff, and it’s going to be a struggle all year.

“The biggest thing I’ve been telling the guys is that we can’t hurt ourselves with walks and stuff like that. Overall, I feel pretty good about our defense.”

Shortstop Tyler Marsh will anchor a tough defensive lineup that also carries some big sticks on offense, according to Sparks.

“I don’t think we have anybody in our lineup we feel is real weak at bat,” Sparks said. “I think hitting-wise, we’re pretty strong. Kris Haynes really hits the ball well. Tyler, between his speed and offensive ability, he will really help us out.

“Casey Witt brings some power into our lineup. He had kind of tough game Saturday-he broke his nose in three places earlier this week, so he has a pretty good excuse.”

With two games already under their belt after a doubleheader loss to William Jewell College, the Bluejays hope to improve on last season’s record of 12-27.

“We’re really focusing on fundamentals,” Sparks said. “And we’re trying to build a program of character. I’m extremely concerned with winning the league, and I’m very competitive. But at the same time, there’s a lot more in life than baseball.

“I want the guys to come out of Tabor able to be successful at life. We talk a lot about our behavior on the field and off the field and the value of integrity and discipline.

“We’re not the most talented team in the league. If we’re going to win, we’re going to have to play as a team.”

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