FRONT ROYAL – The Front Royal Cardinals have lost seven straight games but the team still has plenty of optimism for the rest of their season.
Front Royal head coach Tony Hurla said a few injuries set the team back but he’s loved the attitude of his players despite the losing streak.
“We got off to a good start,” Hurla said after Thursday’s game with Covington was postponed due to lightning. “We were right there. We beat a couple good teams and a few injuries kind of put us in a bind. We kind of had to stretch some guys and it just didn’t work out like we wanted it to. Guys are showing up motivated every day giving their best. And really, the last couple games I’ve seen them really dig down. They’re hungry still, which is a good thing. We still got half the season to play. So I feel like they have plenty of time to get back into playoff contention.”
The Cardinals have five players batting over .300. Tre Dabney (James Madison University) is batting .333 (8-for-24) in just six games. The Cardinals picked Dabney up last week and he already has two homers and five RBIs. Tre Fields (South Florida State) is hitting .326 (14-for-43) and Dylan Menhennett (University of West Florida) is batting .309 (21-for-68) with nine RBIs. Carson Bell (JMU) is hitting .279 (19-for-68) with a team-best 10 RBIs. As a team, the Cardinals are hitting .236.
“Dylan Menhennett, Tre Fields and Carson Bell, those three guys have really been steady for us the entire year offensively,” Hurla said. “Tre Dabney showed up here about a week ago and he’s been a great addition offensively. He’s got a couple home runs already. He’s a legitimate bat that’s really helped the lineup.”
Hurla said the pitching staff has struggled at times but he sees signs of improvement. The Cardinals have a team Earned Run Average of 5.84. Two of the biggest issues has been walks and hit by pitches. The Cardinals pitching staff has hit 32 batters and have walked 145.
Arrison Perez (Barry University) has led the way for the Cardinals. The reliever has appeared in four games and has not allowed an earned run. The team’s top starting pitcher has been Shane Scott (Arkansas Tech University). Scott has started four games and pitched 26.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and a 3.03 ERA.
Hurla said that he feels like the pitching staff has good depth and has shown improvement.
“Some of the guys just haven’t been able to get ahead (in the count) and really put themselves in a bind,” he said. “Walks and hit by pitches have put us in some bad situations a few times. But there’s a good core of them that are really making the adjustments that I need them to and I saw that in a couple of the last outings.”
Hurla said he’s also seen the chemistry on the team getting better and better as the season goes on.
“I think especially this last week the team is starting to get behind each other and really fight for each other night in and night out,” Hurla said.
Hurla said that the biggest thing his team needs to improve on is just becoming steadier on both offense and pitching.
“Consistency offensively, consistency on the mound,” Hurla said. “If we can be more consistent then things will go our way.”
The Cardinals are 6-16 and are 9.5 games behind first-place Strasburg in the North Division. However, they are only 2.5 games out of the fourth-place spot. The top four teams in each division make the playoffs.
“We’ve had a losing streak here, and it went bad fast and it can go good fast,” Hurla said. “That’s how we look at it.”