Ward: FC baseball has a lot to build on
By Sean Dunlap
Where the future of Franklin County High School baseball is concerned, the sky is the limit in terms of what the program has the potential to achieve, according to Head Coach Michael Ward.
The Diamond Dawgs saw their most recent stellar season come to a close last week in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs by dropping a pair of decisions to Saint Patrick of Biloxi.
Franklin County finished its regular season with a 15-2-1 record that included a 10-0 run through District 7-3A play, this year’s regional crown and a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
In the post-season, Franklin County upended Saint Patrick, 13-3, in game one, before dropping two-straight to the Fighting Irish to see their final competitive mark settle at 16-4-1 overall.
“The fact that these guys are basically part of a very young team that won 16 games during the season lets me know that the future is really bright,” Ward said.
“Still, we’ve got to get a little more in the way of pitching — something that we saw in the playoffs. We feel like things start in the off-season in the weight room — lifting three or four days a week during the summer and being in the bullpen once a week.
“Our guys will also be working independently and will make a commitment to getting better with pitching, and that’s important for us.”
Ward said another element that led to Franklin’s success during the recently completed season came in swinging the bats effectively.
“We scored in double digits in many of the games we played, and I thought our guys really did well in this aspect of the game,” he went on to say.
“Right up until the end, we had good run support up and down our line-up, and we need that to continue in the future to be able to find success.”
As is the case with pitching, the coach noted his team can only improve with their batting and base running efforts by honing their skills leading up to next spring.
Ward said his squad learned a lot from its 2022 season and hopes to see those lessons applied in the years ahead.
“Against Saint Patrick, things got away from us, but our guys never quit and kept playing hard until the end,” he continued.
“Playing this kind of team translates to more experience — especially for our younger players — and will hopefully show what they need to do in being more competitive.
“We have got to let that outcome (against Saint Patrick) motivate us so that we don’t wind up in that kind of situation again.”
Another element for Franklin County’s future success is that this year’s roster included only two seniors.
“With most of our guys on the roster coming back, there will be a lot of experience in the line-up from top to bottom,” Ward added.
“There’s a lot to be said for that familiarity ... knowing what we, as coaches, expect from them. We have a really special group of young men on our roster.”
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