Article by Sam Herder, Devils Lake Journal Sports, August 26th, 2016
While the fall calendar will be nothing but exhibitions for the Lake Region State College softball and baseball teams, its value is much more than that.
First-year head softball coach Ben Morris gets a chance to become familiar with his players and implement his policies and style of play. Second-year head baseball coach Kyal Williams was hired after last year's fall schedule and will be able to get a head start on this season's team.
"We're just trying to figure out where guys are going to be," Williams said. "A lot of the time will be us knowing what we need to work on in the spring. For our infielders to work on footwork. Our catchers will work on this and hitters start doing this. It's fine-tuning in the sense of knowing how we want to hit with each player and as a team."
The softball team plays five exhibition games before going to Jamestown for a jamboree. The baseball team held an inter-squad scrimmage earlier this week before playing four exhibition games.
Players from both teams have just recently made their way to campus, but coaches have liked their first impressions in the first meetings and workouts.
"It's been good. Everyone is ready to go," Williams said. "It's a team that wants to be here. Other than that, it's been only a few practices. I saw some good things and saw bad things. But I knew that was going to happen. I think we'll be a good team."
Williams' team is heavy on freshmen this season after a few sophomores left to finish school after early graduations from LRSC. The fall allows the freshmen to adjust to the college level. It also lets the sophomores grow into their leadership roles.
"I told them straightaway that any questions talk to the sophomores," Williams said. "They know the ups and downs of it. We have a more quiet sophomore group. But I know they'll be more vocal as they get more comfortable."
Morris is a familiar face for his group of sophomores. He was an assistant under Williams and also did workouts for all teams on campus before being named the new softball head coach.
Morris has a strong nucleus of nine sophomores back, including Mon-Dak Conference MVP Emma Gary and all-conference selection Hanna Gary.
"They've all reacted to the change extremely well," Morris said. "They're all smiles and listen to all my suggestions. I told them I'm open with them, too. If they see something that can be done a better way, I'm open. They can come and talk to me. It will be more structured this year with studies and we're adding weights three times a week. They're really excited about this year."
He brings in eight freshmen and is looking at adding one or two transfers. The team is taking advantage of the fall season to build depth and add competition at each position as Morris begins to form the program to his liking.
"I want to see intensity," Morris said. "I want to see them treat it like a college sport. Nothing lazy. If you're lazy, you'll sit down. In the fall, everyone is going to get a chance to play and show me what they can do. I'm hoping to have two players at each position. It will make practices intense and make everyone better."