Tigers still missing identity

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Despite the mucky weather, the Demopolis baseball team has been at work this week preparing for its approaching weekend slate that includes games against Bibb County, American Christian and Thomasville.

“We’ve got a tough weekend,” DHS (3-6) head coach Ben Ramer said. “We’ve got good teams this weekend. Obviously we want to win them all. But the biggest thing we’ve been talking to our players about is that we want to compete. Before we can expect wins and success in that category, we have to learn to do that every pitch.”

Learning to compete has been the focal point of Demopolis practices over the last few weeks. According to Ramer, it appears to be paying off in certain areas as the Tigers have shown moderate improvements in key departments.

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“We’re not taking as many called third strikes,” Ramer said. “It’s a mentality we’ve got to change.”

That point is crucial for the Tigers as the team does not have the pitching depth to make up for consistently poor offensive production.

“We’ve got to score runs in order to win,” Ramer said. “We’re still searching for an identity. I feel like we’re closer to that. We haven’t really put it all together yet. We’re not real deep on the mound.”

The difficulty of scoring runs has been compounded for Demopolis by a slew of injuries and illnesses. The Tigers lost starting shortstop Ben Pettus to injury for a few games in the first week of the season. After Pettus got healthy and back in the lineup, the Tigers lost starting second baseman Kole Thrasher.

“It’s been tough to get our middle infield intact,” Ramer said. “Pettus was out. We got him back and now Thrasher is out indefinitely.”

The Tigers have patched the holes in the field and the lineup with a number of faces, including junior Jacob Roemen, who Ramer counted as one of the pleasant surprises of the season’s early going.

“With the lineup we’re missing one or two pieces and we’re trying to move guys around and fill those holes,” Ramer said. “Jacob Roemen has continued to work his way up in the lineup. He’s a guy we’ve moved around a lot.”

As the Tigers try to get healthy and recover from a tough stretch of games, the graduation exam and the obligatory competition break which accompanies it came at an opportune time.

“This graduation exam break came at a good time for us,” Ramer said. “We’re going into it with a win. It’s important for us to get some wins going into Spring Break in two weeks.”

The Tigers will end their Spring Break at a tournament in Wetumpka before diving headlong into area play with back-to-back series against Carver and Chilton County.

Building that momentum Ramer seeks starts Friday night at 6 p.m. with the game against Bibb County, a team Demopolis fell to 13-9 in the first game of the season.

“They’ve got a couple good arms and they swing the bat,” Ramer said of the Choctaws, a team Demopolis led in the fifth inning of their first 2010 meeting. “It was a cold day when we saw them the first game of the season. I expect they’ll be much improved this time and, hopefully, we will be as well.”

The Bibb County game kicks off a weekend of Demopolis baseball that leads into a Saturday round robin with ACA and Thomasville.