Prep Baseball: New coach trying to instill confidence at Casey
Greg Hammond is the fifth coach in the last seven years at Casey County, where he is trying to bolster the confidence of the senior-dominated Rebels, who are 6-7. (Mike Marsee / April 10, 2012)
Casey has gone through five coaches in the last seven seasons and has gone through some long seasons during those years of transition.
But now the Rebels are off to a good start in their first season under Greg Hammond, who said one of his first priorities is to convince his players they can compete.
“We’ve got talent, but they lack the confidence to believe in themselves,” Hammond said.
The Rebels are 6-7 in their first three weeks under Hammond, who came to Casey after a stint as an assistant coach at Central Hardin, which won the state championship last year.
They strung together three straight wins after an 0-2 start, then won another three in a row after losing three straight.
“That shot our confidence up big time,” said Tyler Hayes, one of the team’s nine seniors.
Hammond said the first winning streak was an eye-opener for his team.
“That was huge. I think our confidence was kind of lacking,” he said. “It was great to build on.”
Hayes and fellow senior Logan Weddle said there are noticeable differences in the way the Rebels are practicing under Hammond, and they hope that will lead to a difference in the way they play.
“It’s a lot more serious. There’s not as much goofing off,” Weddle said. “Our practices are longer. We’ve gotten in a routine now.”
The routine actually started back in September, when Hammond first got the Rebels into the batting cage. They spent three days a week in batting practice and two days a week on defense through the winter.
“I have seen improvement since we started back in September,” he said.
There’s still room for more improvement on offense. Casey is averaging 4.7 runs per game and has scored three or less in 10 of its 13 games.
However, that’s still better than last season, when the Rebels averaged 4.1 runs during a 9-19 campaign.
“We’ve had a lot of batting practice,” Weddle said.
“Before we have a home game, we go down and hit for maybe 30 minutes,” Hayes added.
Hammond said the Rebels are strongest on defense, though he said they can be even stronger.
“I think we’re strong in the field, but there’s little fundamental stuff we’re still not doing,” he said.
He said he’s impressed with the work ethic the players have showed.
“They definitely are giving me the right attitude,” he said.
Hammond, who is also an assistant football coach at Casey, took the Casey job so he could relocate near his native Russell County.
“It’s been a blast,” he said. “I’m really enjoying being back close to home.”
He is the team’s fourth coach since longtime skipper Jimmy Brown retired following the 2006 season.
The Rebels’ last winning season was Brown’s next-to-last season, 2005, and since then they have a .201 winning percentage, with less than 10 wins and more than 20 losses in five of their last six seasons.
Casey did make progress in two seasons under Todd Carman, going 23-40 in 2010 and ’11.
And the Rebels said they think there will be even more progress as this season unfolds.
“I think it’ll be a lot better team later in the year,” Weddle said.