PENDLETON — After the Blue Mountain Community College baseball season turned sour early last year, the returning sophomores wanted to get things going in the right direction in 2012. Those Timberwolves that drowsily wandered through a 7-33 campaign that was marred by in-house fighting and poor chemistry needed to disappear.
This offseason, batters and pitchers got together for player-led training sessions. With the first game just around the corner, this Blue Mountain enstallment feels like its thriving on work ethic and real teamwork, sophomore James Caldwell said.
“(Last year) we had a bad group situation,” said the Pendleton native, who is slotted to start for the team at pitcher on opening day. “People acting like we were back in high school...and jumping down each other’s throats. I think the guys have come out with a different mind set this year.”
The keys to success for the Timberwolves in 2012 center on all 26 players coming together as a team, coach Brett Bryan said. A good portion of the bench will be pressed into duty early in the season with some players already battling injuries. That includes three men likely lost for the season.
It’s a familiar position for Blue Mountain. Injuries picked off several players in 2011 and a lack of depth kept the team down while they were out.
The Timberwolves offense will hinge on small ball and advancing runners, starting at the top with center fielder and leadoff man Steve Francom. If he can get on base and create issues with his speed, it will set the pace for the rest of the
lineup, Bryan said.
“We’ll try and move guys around and get them into scoring position,” the coach said. “But once they’re there, we need guys to hit.”
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, Francom is one of the players dealing with injuries. A tweaked hamstring could slow him down in the early season.