A good coach has to be able to teach his players and motivate them. White Hall baseball coach Skip Carr was able to find one exercise that was able to accomplish both for his team.
Going into the state tournament, White Hall was on a five-game losing streak and had a combined team average of .261. Carr searched the internet for different drills to break his team out of the slump.
What he found did so much more than just that.
“I found a drill with a tractor tire, and you hit it with a sledge hammer,” Carr said. “We did that drill for a couple of days before the state tournament and never used it after.”
The drill had its effort, though. During almost every swing during the state tournament and state championship game, at least one White Hall player could be heard shouting “Bring the hammer!”
The Bulldogs certainly did that and got the clutch hitting it was missing throughout the regular season. That helped propel a team that had 12 losses going into the state tournament to a Class 5A state title.
“Maybe it was motivation and something they believed in,” Carr said. “It worked.”
Because of the way Carr pulled the strings of the White Hall baseball, he has been named the Pine Bluff Commercial’s Southeast Arkansas Baseball Coach of the Year.
“It’s a great honor and obviously I wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t for how the kids played this year,” he said.
The legend of the hammer only grew from game to game in the state tournament. After the drill, White Hall catcher Justin McCarty asked Carr if he could bring the hammer home. Carr allowed him to.
McCarty “decorated” the hammer and carved WH on the metal part of the hammer. Then McCarty started bringing the hammer to the rest of the games and another player, Hunter Brown, was the one who started yelling “Bring the hammer!”
At the state championship game, many inflatable hammers were seen in the White Hall crowd. The hammer had become the team’s moniker for the year.
“Brown was out at the time and started saying it, and it blew up from there,” Carr said.
It may have been the best drill Carr has ever used in his coaching career.
The baseball title is the second in White Hall’s history. The Bulldogs won their first title in 1980 and Carr was the starting center fielder for that team.
This is Carr’s 14th year at the helm of the White Hall baseball team, so winning a title as the coach of his alma matter fulfilled a dream of his.
“I was really excited about coming to White Hall,” he said. “The other coaches and I have worked hard over the years to get the opportunities to win state and just didn’t have the right breaks. This year, everything fell into place this year.”
Carr enjoyed winning a state title as a player, but he has never shied away from saying he felt better winning a title as a coach.
“I know how much work it took as a player and as a player, you only have two or maybe three years to win state when another group comes in,” he said. “You continue to coach and when you win it, it just seems that more important for the kids.”
The thrill from winning a baseball title has not settled down yet in the city. It has been nearly a month, but the town is still abuzz, Carr said.
“Everyone in the community is excited about it,” he said. “The City of White Hall is going to recognize the two teams on (June) 18th. Things are still rolling pretty good.”
Carr is already looking to next year, though, and the possibility of back-to-back titles.
“Everyone wants to be the defending state champion, so we know we have a big task in front of us,” he said.
That also means Carr has some time to search for his next drill that can spark another state title run.