Q&A: Baseball season in review with coach Williams
The baseball season ended last Saturday in the area round of the playoffs for the Graham Steers. The Steers were a young team that developed and grew exponentially as the season progressed. The bi-district championship capped off a fun season of baseball for Graham.
Steers baseball coach Jim Bob Williams sat down for a one-on-one interview with The Graham Leader on Thursday afternoon to reflect upon his first season back in Graham as the Steers head baseball coach.
Kyle Borne: This year’s team was a young team that really progressed as the season went on. How do you feel about their progress this year?
Jim Bob Williams: We had a lot of inexperience. We didn’t have a lot of varsity experience back. As they learned about the speed of the game and how it’s different from junior varsity to varsity and stuff, they did a good job. They made adjustments and they put in the work they needed to get better. That was the biggest thing is they were willing to work, and they did work hard. As you went through the year, we were able to see the improvement.
KB: How much do you think that will help them going into next year with the run they had in the playoffs?
JW: They gained a lot of experience, and hopefully they learned some things about when we were down and were able to come back in some games. At the same, some times when we had the lead, we didn’t take the mentality that we needed to go ahead and finish it, and we let some teams come back on us. Hopefully they learned from that. We can hopefully next year be more even keel. We were up and down at times this year, and good teams, really good teams, are going to be the kind of teams that play on a really even keel all the way through.
KB: What did you think was this team’s biggest strength and biggest weakness?
JW: The biggest strength probably was defensively. We played well defensively. We were able to plug different people in with injuries and different things and had kids step up and play well defensively. The biggest problems we had throughout the year was some times we struggled to throw strikes. We put ourself in a bad situation because we would get behind hitters or we would put guys on base. I think sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves at the plate. We would get a runner on second or third, and we were trying to do too much and we would put pressure on ourselves and they just got to learn to relax in those situations.
KB: With that being said, you didn’t have a lot of seniors, but you had seniors like Connor Smith and Logan Taylor. How important was it for the senior leadership to help coach these younger kids for the next season?
JW: We only had two seniors, but they were both very valuable because not only were they good ball players, but they were good role models. They both worked hard. They were the first ones there. Anything that needed to be done, whether it was dealing with the game or after the game or practice they were always willing to jump in and get done what needed to be done. A lot of times with seniors, a lot of them think because they are seniors, they don’t have to do a lot of the little things, but with those two kids, they were great kids. They were extremely hard workers and very good role models for the younger kids about how to do things right.
KB: How do you feel about the new district next year? You’re pretty familiar with those teams up there.
JW: That’s the thing, we played Burkburnett, we played Iowa Park. We didn’t see Vernon, but I knew a little a bit about them. We ‘ve seen several of those teams and it’s going to be a lot like last year. It’s going to be very competitive. There are four playoff spots, and it’s going to be a dogfight to be able to get in and get one of those spots. It is going to be a tough competitive district.