The black team beat the purple team in the series that traditionally ends fall drills. But the real winner was coach Jeff Forehand. He heads into the winter with a better idea of what kind of team he will have when the 2011 season starts.
Newcomer Richie Goodenow, a left-hander who transferred from Vanderbilt, and right-hander Connor Sinclair went head-to-head in the best pitching duel of the series.
“Both pitchers put their teams in a position to win the game,” Forehand said. “That’s all that anyone can ask from a starting pitcher. I was very pleased with that.”
Goodenow, who can also play first base, appears to be ready to take a starting role with the Bisons. He pitched primarily in relief for Vanderbilt.
“Goodenow is not a velocity guy,” Forehand said. “He is a location guy. He is a guy with a lot of experience and savvy on the mound which takes him a long way. He will throw one in there every now and then in the upper 80s. But most of his pitchers are in the 85 to 86 range.
“That’s the same thing with Sinclair. He has got big movement on his fastball. He is hitting his spots. He has a good breaking ball. He has three pitches and the confidence to throw them in the zone at any time.”
Forehand thinks there are 15 pitchers who could get time on the mound in the spring.
“We are deeper than we have been on the mound in awhile,” Forehand said. “I am hopeful that we are going to be stronger on the mound.”
Defensively, the Bisons weren’t up to Forehand’s standards but he admits that in the final three-game series there were several players who were playing out of position.
“We just didn’t have enough position players because of injuries,” Forehand said. “We had pitchers playing other positions and outfielders playing in the infield.
“I’m trying to not grade that out too hard. Throughout the fall we had the positions covered.”
One thing that will make it difficult for Forehand to sleep on cold fall and winter nights is the make-up of his line-up in the field.
“I am wondering how the defense is going to be set up,” Forehand said. “We have some guys who can play different spots. It is going to take awhile in the spring for us to find out what is the best spot for each player.
“There is going to be some competition once everyone is healthy. We have four or five outfielders who are ready. We have four or five infielders that can play and two or three players who can play first base. All of our catchers can play.”
The Bisons scored a lot of runs in a lot of games last season, but often could not hold on to the lead. Forehand expects this team to also be solid offensively.
“We are going to be O.K. swinging the bats,” Forehand said. “I think everything is going to be play out as we get closer.”
Some of the players that impressed Forehand were freshman infielder Aaron Spragg, junior outfielder Shawn Mehring, sophomore outfielder Ricky Coleman, sophomore catcher Bennett Smith and sophomore left-handed pitcher Ben Johnson.
The Bisons still can work two hours a week. They also have started work in the weight room.
“The first game is going to be here before we know it,” Forehand said. “We feel like we will be ready to go.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.