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Wednesday, October 28, 2009The brightest stars of the fall often shine dimmer in the spring, but Lipscomb Bisons coach Jeff Forehand knows of no better way to analyze his baseball team.
“We like to have an idea of where they are in the fall,” said Forehand. “But doing this as long as we have we recognize that the fall and spring are two different seasons. Sometimes guys have above average falls and they come into the spring and are not what we thought they were. And we have players who don’t play well in the fall, but in the spring they are really good.
“I think we have a pretty good barometer of where we are as a team going into November. If we played tomorrow we know how it would be. When we meet with them prior to Christmas break they will know where they stand and the role they might fit into.”
This week the players, including 21 newcomers, have been undergoing a baseball version of final exams in the “Bisons World Series”, a series of intra-squad games.
In the first game Monday senior right-hander Josh Smith, the only pitcher remaining from the top three starters last season; and senior right-hander Matt Bowling were given strong looks by Forehand and new Bisons pitching coach Tyler Shrout.
“Josh threw a lot of pitches but only gave up one run in the first and one in the third,” said Forehand. “Josh gets stronger as the game goes on. If we had played a regular game he would have been back out there for three more innings. And he would have been better the second three innings than he was the first three.”
Bowling has been used as a spot starter and in long and short relief. This fall he has made strides towards holding down a spot in the starting rotation.
“Matt has really come on and shown us he is ready for a different role,” said Forehand. “He has pitched with confidence all during the fall. He is throwing the ball hard and throwing a lot of strikes.
“He is making strides to go into a starting role of us. I think he could really help us. We need to get his arm on a weekly rotation instead of throwing in relief here and there.”
Forehand thinks his pitchers have improved this fall. He also likes what he is seeing offensively as well.
“We are going to be a little different offensive team than we were last year,” said Forehand. “Base running-wise I think we are going to be able to pressure the defense more. Everybody has pretty good speed. We are able to force the defense into some action and not just sit back and wait for someone to hit a ball into the gap.”
Senior outfielder Tyler Wilson returns. He was first overall in base stealing last season in the Atlantic Sun with 25 and was second in A-Sun games only with 13. Also providing speed on the base paths will be sophomore outfielder Antonio Butler, sophomore utility player M.L. Williams and freshman outfielder Ricky Coleman.
“Those are the four guys who can run the best,” said Forehand. “But we have several other guys who can run. We are hopeful we can play at little different pace.”
Last season Justin Sanders and Allen Bolden were the main players with home run power. Both are gone this season.
Forehand is counting on freshman catcher Brett Teschner, senior infielder Ryan Wilkins, sophomore infielder Tennyson Dodd; and juco transfers Zach Messer, Cory Hale and Josh Chism.
“I don’t know if we will have one guy hit 20, but we have several guys with the potential to hit eight to 12,” said Forehand. Forehand is anxious to see what his team will do when the regular season begins.
“I want to see how we are going to shake out,” said Forehand. “If we started tomorrow we would have four guys, five counting the DH, who were actively playing on offense last year.
“We have the potential to have a new catcher, a new second baseman, a new shortstop and a new third baseman. We have more depth than we had last year.”