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Boys of Summer: Prep programs benefit from summer clubs
by Damian Tromerhauser
Jun 08, 2012 | 1274 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs Bandits ‘B’ team infielder Justin Mannens waits for a pick-off throw with a Damonte baserunner sliding into the bag.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Spanish Springs Bandits ‘B’ team infielder Justin Mannens waits for a pick-off throw with a Damonte baserunner sliding into the bag.
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The school year has officially ended for the high schools throughout Sparks and many of the students are eager to put away their books and break out their beach towels. For baseball players from each of the three Rail City’s high schools, they are happily substituting those towels for a bat and glove. Each school’s summer baseball is underway.

There are a number of things that the head coaches of Reed, Spanish Springs and Sparks want to focus on as they return to the diamond, but the main emphasis is on all-around improvements.

“It’s a really fun time to teach kids and work on things you need to get better at,” Reed coach Ray Charles said. “You work on things like hitting the ball up the middle a little bit more or bunting. The main thing is getting the guys repetitions and game experience. You want to improve in the areas that maybe you lacked in during the school season.”

Spanish Springs coach Ben Hofmann also said his team will focus on the small things that can tilt a game one way or the other.

“We just focus on little things like hitting sac flys instead of striking out or popping up,” Hofmann said. “The first few weeks we’ve had good at-bats. We’ve done a pretty good job with situational hitting. We’re hitting the ball up the middle and hitting the ball the other way. I like the attitude and the energy that I’ve seen so far from the kids.”

An additional area of importance for the Cougars’ skipper coincides with team chemistry.

“I like our guys to play together,” Hofmann said. “I like them to learn our system and what we’re doing. Obviously, the more innings and the more at-bats they get, the better they’re going to be. With that I would like them to play together and work together. I want our pitchers to work with our middle infielders and our pitchers and catchers to work close. That just helps build a team. Hopefully they learn that by playing together as a team, they can be successful. If they do the things that we’re coaching and teaching, then they can be successful and learn some leadership through that and take ownership of the team by doing things the right way. Hopefully we can establish that and carry it into next season.”

The summer ball season is a grueling schedule that spans six weeks into mid-July. During that time, Sparks High will look to rebuild after losing a large portion of its core from last season.

“We lost nine seniors so it’s really imperative that we have a good summer program,” Sparks coach Greg Vasko said. “So far our younger guys are stepping up to the plate and they’re doing pretty good. They’re playing some good teams this summer and they’re holding they’re on. They played in the Muckdog tournament a couple weeks ago and faced some kids that were college kids and they held their own and did well. They didn’t win but they played well.

“For us, it’s just about building experience at a higher level. We’re playing some teams that have a lot of older kids just so we’re able to compete when the time comes next season. When you lose that many seniors, it’s tough. We only have four returners coming back from last year’s team so the summer is crucial. To be able to replace them, we have to gain that experience. Not all the kids that we have at Sparks have been playing since they were in Little League. There’s a lot of kids that are getting their experience for the first time right now, so it’s important that they get those reps in right now rather than during the season.”

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