Coaches often contend a high school season is really two separate seasons: non-district and district. For the Summit baseball team, 2016 really has proven thus far to be a tale of two different seasons.
When the Jaguars completed non-district action on March 5, their record stood at just 3-9. For a team that struggled and missed the playoffs last year, it didn’t appear things had turned around.
But roughly a month later, Summit finds itself atop the District 14-5A standings after one round through the teams. Seven wins in eight games entering this week brought the Jaguars to 10-10, and more critically, 7-1 in the more important of the two seasons.
“We knew we have a great team and a great group of guys and we knew we could win,” senior Braden Nolen said.
“It’s been a combination of factors,” Summit coach Chris Peacock added. “We played really good competition in the tournament season. We played a lot of really close games and just couldn’t find a way to win them. We were still in the process of learning how to win and struggling through some things.”
Peacock, who picked up his 100th career win earlier this season, moved some players around and the tinkering seems to have worked. The coach also notes that his team has been following the traditional recipe for winning in baseball: pitch well and play good defense.
But in addition to the technical part of the game, these Jaguars – even the returning lettermen – have had to progress in some of the mental aspects.
“The returning guys were on a team that struggled last year, so they didn’t have a lot of experience in terms of winning,” Peacock said. “They were still trying to figure out what has to happen in order for us to close out and win close games. I think as much as anything just the team figuring out how to win and close out tight games.”
Of course, good pitching will always help that and Peacock said he has four guys he’s fully confident putting on the mound.
Alex Palmer, Ryan Foley, Braden Nolen and Noah Lynch have all drawn praise from Peacock for their performances, especially in district play.
“Those four guys have thrown really good and we have a lot of confidence in them,” the coach said.
Offensively, Peacock would like to see more consistency, but does admit the team has been good about getting important hits when it need one – another key ingredient for a winning baseball team.
Peacock is quick to point out there’s still plenty of baseball left in this district season, and with Legacy, Waxahachie and Ennis all just a game back at 6-2 in the 14-5A standings, there’s very little separation at this point, setting up for a potentially dramatic conclusion to the race for the district title. Regardless of how it plays out, the coach knows he’ll get the same approach from his club.
“One thing that’s been so much fun about this group is that, even when we weren’t playing as well as we felt we should have, we played hard and had a great attitude with great enthusiasm,” Peacock said. “That’s kind of been a trademark of them the entire season. Now that we’re experiencing some success, that hasn’t really changed.”