By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — It has been an up and down season for the Washington Freedom, but coach Jeff Truelove believes the team is ready to take its play to the next level.
Washington (4-11) started the season by losing four straight games, but has steadied itself, winning four of its last 10.
The Freedom play its final home game tonight against Sullivan before finishing with five road games.
“The team is really coming together, they know they have the ability to win,” Truelove said. “We have some good young players that have stepped it up real nicely.”
The biggest issue with Washington this summer, and its trouble on the field, has been complicated by differing player schedules. Truelove said between family vacations and school banquets, the team has had a hard time finding a rhythm.
Truelove found no better evidence than when he got some insight from recently graduated Washington catcher Nathan Sult.
“I was talking to Nathan Sult and he said, ‘coach, you really got something here, we’re a pretty good team when everyone is here and healthy’,” Truelove said.
The biggest issue Truelove faces has been focus.
“Our one Achilles heel is fielding the baseball in the boys’ first game back,” Truelove said. “If we can get everybody together and play well that will help. As long as you’re playing games, it’s easier to keep them together. If you have games and games and games, they stay focused. If you keep them in line they will be successful.”
Truelove is never one to make excuses for his team, but he realizes the strength of the programs the Freedom are playing in Rockport, Evansville Pate, Princeton, Newburgh and Terre-Haute Wayne Newton.
He realizes the Freedom are building a program and these things take time.
“All the schools have won the state finals,” Truelove said. “They have very good programs and very good high school programs. It doesn’t do anything but make our players better.”
While the season has been up and down for the Freedom, three players have stood out to Truelove. The catching tandem of Brady Like and Gavin Benock along with the pitching from Pike Central’s Bailey White have been pleasant surprises.
Benock got a late start, because he was competing in the state tournament with Vincennes Rivet, but since joining the team Benock’s impact has been obvious.
“Gavin Benock has been a blessing – he’s so good behind the plate calling a game, he’s great at watching runners,² Truelove said. “Brady Like has moved around and he’s been good everywhere we put him.
Bailey White’s pitching has been great, he’s really stepped up. He didn’t play a lot this season because of injuries, and I think the little bit of rest between basketball and baseball has really helped him. He’s been really fresh.”