The Florence Buffaloes compete this weekend in the Bartlett Baseball Tournament. Florence (3-2-1) has a mix of senior leaders and young up-and-coming players and hopes to make the playoffs in 2014. Last year, Florence came up one spot in the standings short of postseason play. The Herald’s Albert Alvarado talked with Florence head baseball coach Ronny Allen about the season, pre-district baseball and what fans can expect at the Bartlett Tournament this weekend.
So far, what are your thoughts on the season?
Right now we’re trying to figure stuff out. We’ve got five seniors and a couple of freshman that are playing so we’re just making sure about things and trying to get our pitching ready for district on Tuesday. It’s a steady process.
How important are pre-district records to you?
It’s always important because winning is one of those things that when you win, the kids learn how to win and they expect it so it’s always important. But, at the same time, as coaches we try to figure out what our lineup is going to be, who’s going to be our starter, who’s going to be relieving, the little, bitty nuances of the lineup is what I try to get the feel for. I’ve got like three or four new guys to plug in to see where they’re going to fit.
Who are some of the better teams you’re going to match up against at the Bartlett Tournament?
In our round we have Bartlett and the Harker Heights JV and then in the other bracket will be Jarrell, one of our district opponents, Hubbard and the Bastrop JV. I’m looking forward to it. Last year when we were there, we no-hit Bartlett so we’re hoping we can come out and win two games Friday and have a chance for the championship game on Saturday. Our kids are kind of hoping that Jarrell does the same thing today so we can actually face them again before district starts. They kind of want to see their district opponent to see how they stack up.
Is there a position on the field that you feel better about than you did in the preseason?
Our catching (Dallas Broekhuizen) is really solidified. Last year our catcher was injured so I was playing with somebody different. This year, he’s back from his knee surgery, everything is looking good. He has a great range of motion, he’s still got his quickness so it’s going to be nice having that guy as a backstop. It’s going to be nice having that go from a weakness to one of our strengths.
How big has the play of Logan Hallmark, JoJo Ramirez, Clayton Fullingim, Peyton Person, Tyler Walworth, Luke McNeil and Tate Leatherwood, your senior class, been?
Peyton has started to pitch well enough that he’s starting to get in our starting rotation so that’s the one thing we’re going to try to figure out this weekend. We already had Logan, he was one of our starters last year so I’m trying to figure out who my second starter for district’s going to be. It’s between Dallas and Peyton who are really fighting for that job.
I told them the best man wins from this tournament. He’s (Person) Rock City, he’s got one of the best bats I’ve seen in a while. Great bat control, solid at shortstop. I can’t say enough about him, he’s going to be our rock in the middle.
Luke McNeil is coming in from basketball, he’s starting to see the ball better, he’s starting to put the ball in play and has a lot of extra-base hits.
How well have Parker McNeil and Zach Pluhar handled playing at the varsity level as freshmen?
Our two freshmen that we have are starting to grow. They’re starting to get more confidence hitting the ball and pitching at the same time and that’s where our steady growth is going to be. As they gain more confidence and they get more innings in, I think they’re going to get better and better.