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High school baseball: Back in the swing of things
Weather has disrupted preseason routines
Gainesville High’s Stephen Mason takes his turn in the batting cage Friday afternoon during team practice at Ivey-Watson Field.


2011 Baseball Preview
Look for our annual high school baseball season preview in Sunday’s edition of The Times, featuring a look at all 20 area teams.

With high school baseball season around the corner, most teams will have a scrimmage this week before playing their first game. Practice has been going on for more than two weeks now.

However, recent inclement weather has hampered the preseason routines of area teams, shortening the time coaches have to make roster decisions, and limiting players’ much-needed repetitions to get game-ready.

“There’s nothing like taking the field and getting in reps,” Jefferson coach Tommy Knight said. “You can’t tell a whole lot if you only have two or three days, especially in baseball, because it’s all about getting reps and work in. We basically had four days (the past two weeks) and we’re still trying to figure our roster out. It looks like we’ll get one full week in before our first game.”

Knight said the Dragons have been practicing indoors when weather prevents them from taking the field.

“We only got one day outside last week,” he said. “With the weather, it’s been tough to get a whole lot done.”

That also has been the case for Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp and the Red Elephants.

“Cold or rain, we get outside unless the field is unplayable,” Kemp said. “The only reason we go inside is if it’s muddy and not safe. But even if they’re inside, they’re excited about the season starting. We’ve got something we can build on.”

Kemp doesn’t believe his team is at any disadvantage heading into the season because of limited outdoor practice, because the majority of the competition is enduring the same weather.

“We’re definitely behind where we usually are at this time (in the preseason),” he said. “But everyone is dealing with the same weather. They’re all behind the routine in north Georgia.”

Ready or not, Gainesville will take the field for their lone exhibition Wednesday when they take on Lambert at Kennesaw State. Kemp said he chose the college venue to gain exposure for his players; college scouts will be in attendance.

“It’s a good opportunity to get our kids looked at, with two good teams from last year’s 7-AAA getting together,” Kemp said. “We’ve already decided we’ll play each other again (in a preseason scrimmage) next year at another college.”

Jefferson will host Clarke Central on Thursday and Knight will use the game to help determine a roster — 11 Dragons graduated from last year’s team.

“I haven’t seen enough to know who’s going to make varsity or JV,” Knight said. “Everything is up in the air and we’ll use the rest of the week to make decisions, because we’re still figuring our roster out.”

With six returning starters, Kemp’s roster is a little more defined. He said the team’s focus is simple.

“We’re just trying to get as many game-like situations as possible and do that before the first game,” Kemp said. “That’s the goal.”

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