Changes are coming for the members of the London High School baseball team.
A new coaching staff with a new philosophy on how to approach the game has the Red Raiders re-doing just about everything they’ve come accustomed to doing.
The new man in charge Nick Blake comes to London High School from the baseball hotbed of Dublin Coffman. Blake played for the Shamrocks in high school, played in college at Ohio Wesleyan University and spent the last seven years coaching on the staff at Coffman under Hall of Fame coach Tim Saunders.
Blake hopes to bring the same discipline and level of preparation he grew up with at Coffman with him to a London team which struggled to a 10-14 season (5-9 in Mid-State League, fifth place) last year.
“My first impression was that we have a lot to learn,” Blake said. “We’re a fairly young team with a small group of seniors. We need to learn a lot in a small amount of time.”
As the season approaches the coach is trying to install a lot of what he learned at his previous coaching spot.
“I was very fortunate to play for and coach with Tim (Saunders). The organizational aspect of the program is what I think really stands out and what I’m trying to instill here at London,” Blake said. “I know it’s something new for the players and it’s taking time for them to adjust, but I can already see a lot of improvement.”
The coach said he has been upfront and honest with his players about their abilities and the areas in which they need to improve. He said those open lines of communication have helped build the working environment which has helped bring the team along.
As for on-the-field expectations the coach is trying to keep things in perspective.
“I think we should be able to field the ball well and be able to catch and throw,” he said. “If our pitchers throw strikes we will be successful. If we can find five or six guys who can throw it across the plate we can win games.”
Blake said he doesn’t have the five or six arms he can count on yet, but said he likes the effort he’s getting from his team.
He will look to the likes of returnees Levi Meade (second team All-MSL), Colin Minner and Caleb Whitacre to provide leadership for this year’s team. The younger players are making progress and the coach believes his team will continue to get better the more they play.
“We made a promise to each other that we were going to commit to getting better at everything we do,” the coach said. “There seemed to be a lot of just going through drills just to get through them before I got here. We want them committing 100 percent to doing whatever we’re doing, whatever we’re working on we want their complete focus and effort.”
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.