Keller Citizen

February 24, 2014

New coach focuses on fundamentals, brings experience to Texans baseball

Northwest Baseball Coach John Herrick says his team continues to build upon strengths such as hitting well and possessing good speed defensively.

The Northwest baseball team opened the season Thursday against Aledo in the Azle Tournament. Though falling to Aledo 5-0, the Texans ended the tournament 3-3.

Head coach John Herrick is happy with his team’s start.

“After the first weekend, I am proud of what we’ve done,” he said. “We started off kind of shaky but picked it up toward the end.”

This is Herrick’s first year at Northwest, but his 30th year coaching. He is using that experience to improve his squad.

“Our emphasis right now is working on changing some things that some of the guys have learned in the past,” he said. “It has helped our success that they have been willing to change and have put in the hard work.”

The team is heavy on upperclassmen, but many are new to varsity.

“We have 21 on varsity with nine seniors and six juniors. Not many of them have a lot of varsity experience and several were called up late last year,” Herrick said. “We are starting a majority of our seniors and they are playing really well.

Several players had strong showings over the weekend.

“Our second baseman Tanner Diminuco and center fielder Victor DeJesus played really well and had a great opening to the season,” Herrick said. “Colin Rhodes, our shortstop, played really well for us on Friday and Saturday and ended the tournament strong.”

Sophomore pitcher Bailey Dovel also had a successful outing.

“He played 3-4 innings for us against Aledo and even though they beat us 5-0, all the runs he gave up were unearned,” Herrick said. “He really pitched well for us.”

As far as pitching goes, success will be a team effort.

“It’s going to take our whole staff this year,” Herrick said. “We are going to rely on everyone to get it done.”

With the UIL rules cutting games from pre-district play, getting experience is tougher this year.

“We lost a tournament or three games and that really took away the opportunity to look at a lot of players we would like to see before district,” Herrick said.

Despite the new rules that are keeping the Texans from playing in another tournament this week, Herrick plans to use the time off to work on fundamentals.

“It allows us to improve on the things we did not do well this weekend,” he said. “We have really good team speed defensively and we hit the ball well. Right now we are really working on the basics like hitting the cutoff man and moving people over when we need to. We are working on becoming better as a team.”

Herrick is looking to improve last season’s District 4-5A fifth-place finish.

“We would love to go undefeated but now we just want to win the rest,” he said. “If we improve every day, we will be very happy with where we are at the end of the season.”

With district play looming on the horizon, Herrick is focused on the positive.

“Our teams all had great tournaments this weekend. We are really starting to build things around here,” he said. “I am really happy with the kids overall.”

The Texans open district play March 11 against Keller High School in Keller.

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