By Drew Terhall
BRADFORD — The Bradford High School baseball team is looking to build on last season under new leadership. Head coach Bill Sturwold is the new coach for the Railroaders.
Sturwold said he had a chance to have some workouts with the team in the fall and got to know the kids better. While he is still learning about the team and the kids, he knows about the success Bradford has had in the spring.
“This is kind of a blank slate. I like what I see,” Sturwold said. “Some of them are the little brothers to the sisters that won the State championship in softball. The families are used to success and they expect it. So do I.”
Bradford finish last season with a 12-12 record and a 5-6 WOAC record. Sturwold does have a useful resource to help him figure out what Bradford has done in the past. Derrick Skinner will still be with the program with Sturwold in charge.
Sturwold said it’s been great to have Skinner as a sounding board to help figure out how to best utilize each player.
“Derrick Skinner is the one who called me about this job and his son is a senior. I pick his brain. He’s seen them all the way up,” Sturwold said. “I’m making the lineup and doing all of that stuff. But, he gives me an idea on what has happened in the past and use that information when I make some decisions.”
The Railroaders did lose two players from last season. Keaton Mead graduated and senior Parker Davidson is out with a knee injury he sustained during the basketball season.
They still have plenty of talent returning to the team. Junior Tucker Miller is coming off a season where he was named to the First Team All-WOAC. Miller hit for .525 average to lead the team and had two home runs with 18 RBI. Junior Landon Wills was named to the Second Team All-WOAC last season as he led the team with 19 RBI and had a .471 batting average.
Sturwold has been able to see some leaders emerge during the offseason. He said sophomore Owen Canan has been someone who leads by example and will do a lot of catching for them. Miller and senior Brendan Baker were also mentioned as leaders who will be out in the infield and outfield. Miller is set to play in the middle infield while Baker will be in the outfield.
There could be times where players are asked to play different positions. Sturwold said the players understand how valuable they can be to the team by being versatile.
Versatility is an important aspect to Sturwold’s philosophy in team building. He said he wants to have his team ready to win two days in a row by the time the postseason starts. The time to get ready starts now.
The team is still focused on playing their way towards the top of the WOAC. Sturwold said he is still learning about the teams in the conference, but does know teams like Newton, Arcanum and Ansonia are going to be tough to beat.
He also said to be a top team in the WOAC, his team has to play defense. Sturwold wants his guys hit the field for defensive drills like they hit the batting cages to work on their swing.
Overall, Sturwold is excited to be back coaching and is ready to lead his team this season. He said he got his umpire’s license over the summer and worked as an umpire.
While it felt good to be out on the field often, it didn’t compare to the feeling of being on the field as a coach.
“It gets you on the ball diamond, but it’s still not the same as coaching. You don’t get to work with the kids and see what’s going on with them on and off the field. I like to see them grow every year, that’s the fun part of it,” Sturwold said.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]