Things haven’t gone quite the way New Market head coach Zac Cole thought they would early in the Valley Baseball League season.
The Rebels have struggled and are off to a 6-7 start. They are in third place in the VBL’s North Division and four games behind first-place Front Royal.
“We’ve been really up and down,” Cole said Monday after the Rebels’ 7-4 loss to Front Royal. “We show flashes of what we thought we could be – really good. And then we’ll have a night where we kind of go the other direction. So right now our battle is consistency.”
The offense for the Rebels has had trouble scoring runs, averaging just five runs a game. As a team, they are hitting .243, ninth in the league.
Cole said the most important thing in trying to turn things around is to stay calm and for everyone to keep believing in themselves.
“You wonder as a coach whether it’s just guys getting used to each other, figuring out wooden bats,” Cole said. “They’re in a different part of the country, new teammates. So you kind of just got to stick to your guns and keep preaching the right things. And hopefully, we start to pick it up, we start playing together, and start to play better.”
STEALING TO SUCCESS: One area where the Rebels have had success has been on running the base paths.
New Market is second in the league with 24 stolen bases. Cole said that being strong on the base paths has been a goal of his from the start of the season.
“We’ve made an emphasis this year to make sure we were good at running bases,” Cole said. “We wanted to give those guys that tool to take back to school with them. We feel like we’ve done a good job. Our guys are understanding what we want to do, finding good counts to run in.”
The Rebels have not only been successful at stealing bases, but they have had a strong nucleus of guys that can do it. New Market has four players with at least three stolen bases this season.
Brant Blaylock (University of Southern Mississippi) leads the team with six stolen bases, while Kobe Lopez (Florida International University) and Brandon Parker (Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College) have five each. John Shields (College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota) has three steals for the Rebels.
“Our lineup has got some depth as far as having guys that can run,” Cole said. “And that’s a positive thing because that makes the other team uncomfortable and puts a little pressure on them. And it makes them change the way they’re doing things.”
OPTIMISTIC OUTLOOK: New Market plays at Winchester tonight and still has 30 games left in the regular season.
Even though his team is in a little bit of a hole, Cole said he feels like the Rebels can still turn things around and be one of the top teams in the league.
“I still feel good about our team. I wouldn’t trade our team,” Cole said. “I think we have quality guys. And I think we have guys that are very much capable of doing what we want them to do. And I think this team is capable of winning the league. It probably sounds crazy when you’re a couple of games under .500 to say that. But if you look at our roster. we have a quality roster. So it’s going to be a challenge for us as coaches to find a way to get it out of them.”