Woodmen take on Southport in doubleheader action


Logan Connor, Feature Editor

The baseball team will take on Southport tomorrow for non-conference doubleheader action. Last year, the teams split the games with GHS winning the second of the two games.

This year, the team hopes to sweep the series and improve their already strong start. One of the main reasons behind the start is the improved defense, especially that of the infield.  

“We have improved our defense a lot this season,” junior Brendan Bailey, first baseman, said. “Last year we did not play very clean defense whatsoever. We had a ton of talented and athletic seniors all across the field, but we found ourselves down in games because of the errors we had and runs that were given up because of that.”

GHS baseball was dead last in the conference in errors committed and runs given up off of errors. This year, the defense has tightened up, giving the Woodmen plenty of hope in winning the doubleheader set tomorrow afternoon.

“We feel like we can be in a really good spot if we just control the ball and play well on defense,” Bailey said. “Our defense and pitching have been good enough this year that if our offense can get just a couple runs a game we can still feel good about winning most if not all of our games.”

Along with the improved defense, the Woodmen offense has improved their hitting. The 2022 team was one of the better hitting teams to come through in a while, but this year’s team might just have them beat.

“Last year, we were really great contact hitters,” Bailey said. “With (Coach) Patterson, we worked a lot on contact and the basic fundamentals. He preached a lot of gap to gap and base hits. This year, I think we have more power bats. More of our guys can swing harder and get balls out.”

The power bats of the Woodmen hope to be difference makers in this year’s contest. Last season, Southport put out three homeruns over the two game set compared to none from GHS. 

“We did not hit a ton of balls out last year,” junior Landen Smith, shortstop, said. “Last year, we had a bunch of singles and some doubles which are still important to our offense, but having guys one through nine who can put the ball over the fence is a huge part of us as a team.”

Smith led the team in multiple statistical categories, including batting average, stolen bases, hits, runs scored, RBIs slugging percentage, triples and a team best four homeruns. This year, the numbers have taken a small step back with teams ensuring they pitch around him. 

“Last year, I had a really improved season,” Smith said. “I didn’t hit as well as I would have liked freshman year so improving last year felt great. Being able to help the team out at the plate always feels good. But this year I haven’t gotten a ton of fastballs to hit. I see a ton of offspeed, especially when I’m at the top of the lineup. I can only assume Southport pitches the same way, and myself and the other guys need to hit fastballs when they’re thrown and any hanging offspeed pitches as well.” 

Alongside the power bats, the arms on the mound have improved their velocity as well. The improved power both on the mound and at the plate has a lot to do with the strength program and Coach Jerrod Watson.

“Being in the weight room this summer and winter was huge for our development,” junior Micah Vessely, pitcher, said. “Getting strong and mobile in the weight room is the most important thing off the field for baseball. Keeping our hips loose and lower half and core strength is huge rotational stuff for us.”

Playing doubleheaders are different in a multitude of ways. From preparing for two separate games to the little things like hydration and nutrition, playing two games in one day is a difficult task for any athlete.

“Playing doubleheaders, especially on a hot spring day with the sun, is tiring,” senior Payton King, catcher, said. “Making sure we stay hydrated and drinking water usually goes out of the minds of most guys. But keeping food and water in the system is important so we don’t get tired and lose energy.”

The team will play Southport tomorrow in a non-conference doubleheader with games starting at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.