SHERIDAN — The Sheridan senior American Legion team is off to a hot start to the season, winning six of its first seven games.
Coach Mike Moore said the team has been solid on the mound and at the plate, but he thinks the defense has been the key factor in the impressive start.
“We’ve had been good pitching and pretty good defense,” he said. “We’ve hit the ball consistently. Our only loss was to Bryant and that game we were tied late 2-2, and then they had an eight-run inning to win 10-2.
“But difference has probably been our defense. It usually keeps us in ballgames and it’s been a really solid defense.”
Moore hopes the defense will keep it up when Sheridan hosts the Peoples Bank Wood Bat Classic today through Sunday.
“With the wood bats, it makes it more like real baseball,” Moore said. “You have to play small ball. Getting the bunt down and moving guys around to scratch out a run, instead of just waiting for that two-run double.
“In this kind of tournament, pitching and defense really come to the forefront.”
With the offensive playing field leveled by the wood bats, the familiarity Moore’s players have with one another out in the field could be key to Sheridan’s chances of making it out of pool play.
“Every one of them is from Sheridan,” Moore said of his players. “We don’t practice a whole lot during the summer, because we practice them so hard during the high school season. Players need a break and everybody’s got things they want to do during the summer.
“(The familiarity) definitely gives us an advantage, because we don’t have to spend time going over things like covering bunts and pickoff plays. Our guys already know what everybody’s going to do. So it’s good that we don’t have kids coming in from other schools.
“We’ve got a good deal.”
Moore said his players are looking forward to hitting with the wood bats during the tournament.
“They like using them when everybody else is using them,” he said. “They like doing that, its kind of a novelty thing.
“They like getting to hit like the big boys (professional players) and play big-boy baseball.”
Moore said he expects some good competition throughout the 14-team tournament, which guarantees each squad at least three games.
The pool play round is broken down into four groups — two groups of four and two of three. The teams in the groups of four will play each team within their group once, while those in the groups of three will play one opponent in the other group of three for their third game. The winners of each pool advance to Sunday’s semifinal round. The winners of the semifinal games will play later Sunday in the championship tilt.
“People always tell me it’s one of the best tournaments,” Moore said. “That’s why we get some of the best teams in Arkansas.
“It’s been a pretty good tournament for us, and we expect more of the same this year.”