Appy League a learning experience for players

Douglas Fritz • Jun 26, 2019 at 11:36 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Appalachian League baseball is a training ground, but games are still being played.

Standings are posted, and championships are awarded. So it can be a fine line sometimes between teaching and winning.

Elizabethton had its struggles on the mound and in the field during Wednesday’s 11-6 loss to Bristol at Northeast Community Credit Union Ballpark. The Twins made five errors and pitchers issued eight walks and hit a batter.

Manager Ray Smith said sometimes the players throttle themselves by overthinking.

“I think it applies to all of the different positions, not just the pitchers when they’re squeezing the ball and trying to do too much,” said Smith. “Instead of focusing on their abilities, they try to force things. Sometimes you’re better off just letting it happen, and depending on your natural abilities.”

It carries over to the plate as well, said Smith.

“It’s the same thing with hitters trying to be too precise up there,” said Smith. “They think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to make this be a strike. I’ve got to make this be a strike.’ And then by the time you overthink, you trying to not to overswing, and you underswing. You try not to do too much, and you go the opposite way. And you don’t stay within your natural ability.”

Some of these things are part of the reason why these players are at the rookie-league level.

“It’s part of the maturing process,” said Smith. “It’s an instinctual thing that comes with experience, knowing how to control your emotions and not get too uptight. And it’s understanding the fact that those other guys are pretty good, too. You’re as good, and you can’t be too hard on yourself.”

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