Bison Baseball Focused on Fundamentals

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On Tuesday, April 23, with cloudy skies and low wind in Kirtland, the Bison Baseball team took on the undefeated Hornets, the rivals Beachwood lost to in the second round of last year’s playoffs.

Kirtland came out strong at first, but the Bison pulled through with a 7-5 win.

It was clearly a different Beachwood team than the one Kirtland faced last spring.

The Bison have put in plenty of time in the off season to come back better than last year.

Coach Andy Pohl explained what they have done to improve from last year.

“You can definitely see we are executing fundamentals at a higher level this year,” Pohl wrote in an email. “We have improved significantly with making the routine plays, commanding the strike zone and making better decisions on the base paths.”

“We worked really hard during the off-season, so it’s gratifying to see this growth,” he added. “The biggest difference is behind the scenes – our daily approach, focus, attitude, ability to handle adversity, the way we prepare.”

Beachwood played the Hornets again on Wednesday to complete the two-game series. The Bison battled hard and held the Hornets to 2-2 at the end of the 7th inning. The game went into extra innings, and the Hornets pulled ahead, which resulted in a 2-3 Kirtland win.

At publication, the Bison record is 8-9-1, already an improvement on last year’s overall record of 8-20, with plenty of ball to play until the season is over.

Coach Pohl feels that this year’s seniors have matured and shown leadership.

“It’s a luxury to have a group of mature and poised seniors who can help our younger players navigate through this,” Pohl wrote. “It’s always a lot more powerful when reinforcement comes from peers, rather than coaches.”

Senior Johnny Marks explained how it feels to play his final season.

“It’s tough that this is the last time I get to be on the field with my teammates,” he said. “We have a great group of guys, and the coaches have us going in the right direction. I wish I had another year to see these younger players reach their full potential.”

If I had to focus on just one aspect, it would be to establish a reputation of a program that has the mental toughness to grind it out for 7 innings, regardless of score, and make our opponents earn everything they get.

— Coach Andy Pohl

Marks is proud of how the team has played.

“We have competed in every game, and if our team keeps this ‘get better every day’ mentality, then we will be a scary team down the stretch,” he said.

Senior Sam Thomas, who plays positions in both infield and outfield, emphasized that details matter in baseball.

“When I’m playing in the outfield, I have to make sure I’m doing little things such as getting around a fly ball or hitting the right cut off man when the ball is hit,” he said. “When I’m playing in the infield, I have to focus more on my footwork, such as the angles I take when moving to a ground ball.”

Coach Pohl described his coaching approach.

Our goals are mostly process-based, rather than outcome-based, because we have more control over those aspects,” he wrote. “If I had to focus on just one aspect, it would be to establish a reputation of a program that has the mental toughness to grind it out for 7 innings, regardless of score, and make our opponents earn everything they get.”

“We have shown this year, regardless of our opponent, that it’s going to be a ‘knock down-drag it out’ type of contest when you play Beachwood,” he added.

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