Danville baseball off to hot start in 2018

Published 5:56 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Danville’s young baseball team has started the season in great form.

The Admirals are 5-1 after a 9-3 victory on Tuesday over Adair County in the Wooden Bat Classic at Bardstown. The nine runs are the lowest of the year for the hot-hitting Admirals and head coach Paul Morse said his team has done well getting its feet wet early in the year.

“We’re off to a good start. It’s just such a young team, we just kind of didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “We’re starting four, sometimes five freshman. An eighth grader has started every game. We’re pretty young, couple seniors are starting out there and a couple juniors, and that’s what we’ve been going with.”

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One challenge coach Morse said his team has done well with so far this year is the jump in competition.

“We’re just still feeling our way through and everybody is getting used to that jump in competition for varsity,” coach Morse said. “It’s not so much competition, this group is really young but so many have played high-level travel ball so it’s not necessarily competition, it’s playing in front of more fans, more pressure because it’s a high school game instead of a middle school or travel ball game.”

The biggest difference so far has been at the plate: Danville is averaging 11.3 runs per game through their six contests.

“I’ve been really pleased with them, they’re executing, especially at the plate,” coach Morse said. “We’re moving guys around, guys are getting clutch hits, hits with two strikes. We’re doing the little things right that you don’t always expect from the younger players. That’s what I’ve been most pleased with. Defensively, we’ve been fairly solid, we’re still working on some things there, too.”

It’s been just about everybody getting it done at the plate so far for Danville: The top of the order is getting on base, the middle of the order is driving in runs and the bottom of the order has cleaned up as well.

On the mound, the Admirals have been led by two freshmen: Christian Howe and Ethan Wood. The pair have combined for all five wins — 16.2 innings pitched, six earned runs and 24 strikeouts.

“Pitching, we’ve just been harping on throwing strikes, working ahead in the count and we’re doing that well,” coach Morse said. “We’ve got a couple freshmen, two or three that are throwing a lot of innings for us. For them to go out there and hopefully have some success early is going to build confidence and that’s what we’re preaching right now. We’re building to be a good team come end of May.”

Both Howe and Wood are getting it done as the No. 3 and No. 5 hitters as well: Howe leads the team in hits with 11, Wood leads the team with 10 RBIs.

“Those two guys are both two freshmen we’re counting on heavily, they’re both hitting in the middle of our lineup, both are producing offensively and then they’re doing well on the mound,” he said. “Freshmen have all of the pitching wins for us so far. Christian has a save, I believe, as well. Those two guys are doing extremely well for us. Cayden Shaver is doing a job for us. He’s thrown some good innings, so has Jacob Crank. Another freshman, Jaden Larmour has thrown for us in relief and doing well for us, too. Noah Goodman has thrown well for us and did well today. They’re getting better, throwing well. Those two freshmen are doing it for us offensively and on the mound.”

Morse said his four upperclassmen that have been playing consistently — Brennan Washington, Austin Mott, Cayden Shaver and Jacob Crank — have all stepped up this season.

“Brennan Washington is doing an awesome job for us at the leadoff spot for us, his on-base percentage is a little over .700 and he’s hitting .500 early in the year,” coach Morse said. “He’s doing the little things, I think he’s been hit about six times here early. He’s a smart, intelligent player and a guy that has been around our program for a long time and he’s doing a good job as a leader for us and setting the table at the top of the lineup. Austin Mott has been swinging the bat better for us. Juniors, Cayden Shaver is hitting in the four hole and driving in runs, which is what we want him to do there. Jacob Crank has had his second day back-to-back with three-hit games. Those are the four upperclassmen getting significant playing time, the rest being those young guys. I’ve been pleased with them.”

Washington leads the Ads with a whopping 15 runs scored so far this year, and Shaver’s second on the team with nine runs batted in.

Coach Morse also noted two underclassmen — freshman Bryson Young and eighth-grader Brady Morse — as a pair that have been utilized in multiple positions and succeeded early. Both are hitting .350 or above and have six RBIs apiece.

“Bryson Young, another freshman, he moves around, he’s played first, outfield, but he’s been swinging the bat for us,” the coach said. “Brady Morse has been doing an excellent job at third and catching when Shaver is pitching. He’s swinging the bat and holding his own as well. We’ve been happy all the way through, 1-9 on the lineup.”

Danville is scheduled to play Grayson County tomorrow at Bardstown at 11:30 a.m. A win and the Admirals play again at 4:30 p.m., a loss and Danville would play at 2 p.m. The Admirals will have their first district games next week against Lincoln County.

“As young as we are, yes we want to come out and win those games and do well, but our big thing is to get better as a team, individual guys get better at the things they need to improve so we’re good come the district tournament,” coach Morse said. “If we execute and do those things well, then we’ll have a good shot to win some of those games for sure. Our big thing is to just keep getting better and improve.

“Like I told the guys the other day, you young guys, we’re going to make mistakes. You just can’t get down when you make mistakes. Learn from them, get better, don’t make that same mistake again. This has been a fun group to coach so far, they’re on every word, they want to learn and get better, they play hard and want to get better. From a coaching standpoint, that’s all you can ask for and we’re excited about them.”