Bengals Baseball Battle Though A Challenging Season
May 05, 2016 12:11PM
● By Sarah Almond
By Sarah Almond | [email protected]
Cottonwood Heights - As the Brighton High School baseball team heads into the second half of their season, head coach Jonnie Knoble is hoping the group will finish out stronger than they started. Though their 2-13 overall record in indicative of the challenges the team has faced this year, it doesn’t reflect their effort or unity as a team.
“We’ve had a pretty bad year, record wise,” head coach Jonnie Knoble said. “We have an older group, and they are really good kids, they just haven’t played to their full potential.”
Being in one of the most competitive regions in the state, the Bengals’ are playing through a consistently tough schedule this year.
“CJ Bertram has kept us pretty much every single game we’ve player,” Knoble said. “He’s pitched awesome and we’ve had a chance to win every game he’s pitched. Other than that we just really haven’t had anyone step up.”
However, with 31 boys on the team this year, Knoble is hoping that more his players will take the initiative and improve their leadership on the field.
“I’ve got 10 seniors on the team with quite a bit of experience,” Knoble said, “So I keep reminding them that baseball is a funny game, you just get hot at the right time and sometimes you never know what that’s going to be. But I don’t think that they’ve played to their full potential so I hope that’s a sign that they’ll figure it out, hopefully before its too late.”
Though they had a rough start to the year, the Bengals had mid-season break that Knoble thinks might motivate the players to finish out the season strong. Over the school’s spring break, the Brighton players traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
“We played four teams, one from Illinois and three from Florida, and we were in most of those games as well; we put up some really good competition,” Knoble said.
Along with playing multiple games, the team attended the Miami Marlins’ home opener against the Detroit Tigers.
“It was really cool to see. I have never been to a home opener ever and the guys hadn’t either, so that was really neat,” Knoble said. “It was cool that the boys were able to get that experience. We got to see professional baseball, we had good weather and got to go to the beach and things like that in our free time so I think that was good for all of us.”
The Bengals’ baseball team has made a tradition out of spring break travel, jet setting to places like San Diego and Pescadero, CA.
“I think this trip gave players confidence,” Knoble said. “But the main reason I do these trips is for the memories. These kids will remember this the rest of their lives. Obviously winning is important, but more important than that is they won’t remember their record when they are older, but they will remember the memories they made playing baseball.”
Thanks to the unique Utah climate, fluctuating spring weather has played a big role in the Bengals’ practice and game time.
“This year we’ve been really struggling with the weather,” Knoble said. “We’ve probably had one solid team practice in the last month.”
When the team does get time to practice, however, Knoble says that the improvements are obvious.
“When I get two or three hours of their full attention, that’s when they get better,” Knoble said. “A lot of kids play year round on travel teams and stuff and that’s great, but a lot of these kids don’t take the time to practice. When they are younger they aren’t taking the time to really learn the game and then they get in the game and even though they’ve played 80 games a year, they don’t know how to do basic things like a rundown or execute a pick off.”
With enough dedication from the players, Knoble hopes that the group will find the time to fine tune the fundamental skills needed to become a successful team. Though they have tough, competitive games in the coming weeks, Knoble thinks as long the Bengals keep working hard and focusing on their individual growth, they can finish out the season strong.
The Bengals play their last home game against Jordan High School on May 10 at 4 pm.
Brighton High School
2220 E Bengal Blvd.
Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121