By PAUL HINES
Webber’s baseball program has made a transformation over the past few years.
On the field, the Trojans have piled up three straight winning seasons after going 5-11 in coach Sam Root’s first season. Through player and community involvement in fundraisers Webber has also made significant improvements its baseball field.
“There’s not one thing up there we haven’t changed from it,” Root said. “I remember four years ago the very first thing we did was put foul poles up because we didn’t have foul poles.”
Webber enters the season after two straight regional championship appearances. Last season Gallatin County ended the Trojans’ season. Root said winning a regional crown is the team’s top goal.
“You can’t ever know if it will happen, but we’ll be right there,” Root said. “We’ve got a great shot. We want to win a regional and hopefully go beyond that.”
Senior Koaltin Dye said one of the keys for the team will be its offense in pressure situations, especially the postseason.
“When big games have come around, we just haven’t been hitting the ball,” Dye said.
This year the Trojans host a regional on the field that has seen massive renovations over the past several season. In addition to the foul poles, last year the school put up an electronic scoreboard and new dugouts. Recently a new backstop was put into place.
“It took a lot of hard work, and really we’ve had a lot of volunteers whether it be parents, community members, businesses helping donate,” Root said.
The Trojans squad returns a wealth of experience after losing only Isaac Lowery to graduation. Ace pitcher and Rend Lake College signee Ty Henderson heads a group of seniors that includes Dye, Alex Lynn and Levi Aydt. Henderson was the top hitter and with Lowery led the team in wins last season.
“I guess all you can ask for is for everybody to try their best and just go out there and give it your all,” Henderson said. “Since we’re hosting a regional and we’re going to be on our home field that’s should be a big boost for us.”
With the bad early spring weather the Trojans have done most of their work inside so far this season.
“We’re been throwing two and a half, three months now,” Root said. “We’re trying to get some swings, hand-eye coordination. That’s about the only thing you can do right now because you can’t really see live stuff or do anything field-wise.
“Hopefully we can be outside Thursday or Friday.”
Root added the returning experience of his team could prevent a slow start for his team due to not being able to practice much on their home field.
“I feel like we’re in better shape than some teams because we already played in the fall. We have so many kids coming back anyway that we would be farther along than some teams.”
The Trojans open the season Monday at home against Noble. The following day Webber travels to Zeigler-Royalton-Christopher.
“We haven’t beaten (ZRC),” Lynn said. “I’m hoping to get that win, first win against them.”