Monday, June 06, 2011

SPORTS >> Centennial AA team improving

Leader sports editor

IN SHORT:  The Cabot AA  Legion coach expects his team to grow this season.

The Cabot Centennial Bank class AA baseball team is off to a slow start to the summer season. The team, made up predominantly of players just about to enter high school, is playing at an age disadvantage against most of its competition. The Cabot bunch, which has yet to play a home game, is 0-2 so far early in the season, with losses to Newport and Hot Springs Lakeside.

The good numbers situation left Cabot’s program with enough players to field three teams this year, but a large school district in the AA classification can only play 17-under, while other teams within smaller school districts can play 19-under at the AA level.

Cabot coach David Smith takes that into account, as well as some other factors, when assessing his team’s early-season performance.

“My team is majority kids who will be going into the tenth grade,” Smith said. “We’re going to be playing against teams that are a lot older than us. We’ll be playing some teams that have college players returning to play for them.”

Smith believes there is talent on the team, and that it will have a shot to be successful in its legion zone and possibly into state.

“We’re not yet where we could be,” Smith said. “There are a lot of talented kids in this group. A lot of them didn’t get as many cuts as they could’ve during the high school season because of JV rainouts, or injuries or what have you. But the sky is the limit for this team.”

The off-speed pitching has struggled in the team’s first two games, and errors were a big problem in the season-opening loss to Newport. The defense improved in the second game, and Smith believes that will continue.

“When the only thing you can get across the plate is the fastball, and you’re playing mostly varsity kids and even some college players, they’re going to hit the fastball,” Smith said. “Defensively we haven’t made a ton of errors but we’ve made our share. We cut them down a lot in our second game. So I think once we get going pitching wise, we’re going to be ok.”

The AA team will play its first home game of the season at 1 p.m. today against Heber Springs.