Baseball is still a few months away, but new Liberty County coach David Samuels is using the winter months to get to know the players he inherited after Steve Cottrell vacated the position by moving to Athens.
Samuels said the schedule has also come together; the Panthers went from having only 10 varsity games to 22, and increased the junior varsity schedule to 10 games. The coach said he looks to add two more games to each squad’s schedule.
The new coaching staff, which includes Liberty County YMCA Director Lee Bogess and Zach Duncan, a new teacher at the school, has put the Panthers through conditioning drills about three days a week. Philip Davis, who has assisted the team in the past, continues to help.
Samuels said he knows change isn’t easy for the players. A transition period after a coaching change is natural.
"I’ve seen improvement, but I would like to see more," he said. "Some of the attitudes and work ethic need to improve a little bit, but we are getting there."
Samuels said preseason practices will pick up this week, with the start of two-on-one workouts. Each player will get to work with two coaches at a time.
"… I’ll be able to see who has the good arm and the good bats, and then we can start piecing things together slowly," he said, referring to his starting lineup.
The official start of practice is Feb 3, but Samuels said the next few months are critical in order to assist the players with fundamentals, correct errors and analyze their skill levels.
"I keep telling the kids I haven’t really seen them play yet," he said. "I think sometimes the kids are trying to test me to see what I will and will not allow,. I plan to stay strict to my standards."