Recharged Edgewood on rebound Rams regroup after poor season

April 18, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

Top to bottom, there is a new attitude and promise of a bright future surrounding this year's Edgewood baseball team. It is a team that wants to earn back the respect it lost during a bad season a year ago.

At the top is second-year coach Kevin Tyree, who readily admits last year was a "learning experience," for himself and his team. The experiences were not always positive, and expectations of an outstanding season were not fulfilled.

This year's senior leadership comes from outfielder Jamie Coons and pitcher Wade Greason, and they vow things are different.

"The attitude is a lot better, and we're more together than before," said Coons, who hit .460, with six homers a year ago, and after four games this spring is at .571, with two homers.

"Last season, if a guy missed a ball, the others would rag on him. We felt pressure, and when we didn't do well, it made for more problems," Coons said. "This year, somebody misses a ball or messes up and we're a lot lighter, more relaxed, and try to encourage the guy."

Greason has had an outstanding career already, leading the county in strikeouts for three years and compiling a 14-7 record. He was 11-3 his first two seasons, then went 3-4 a year ago. Losing three of the games by a run each did not help.

He already has equaled last year's win total, as the Rams are off to a 4-1 start. "We did not play good defense last year, but right now, our defense is solid and the underclassmen are playing well," Greason said.

"We're pushing each other to be good, to do well, but we're doing it in a positive way and not sarcastic the way it was last year."

rTC The same might be said for Tyree, whose previous coaching experience had been in Greensboro, N.C., where the players were used to being yelled at and criticized. He was an Edgewood assistant for one year under previous coach Steve Williams, then took over last season.

"I've learned to approach the players in a different way," Tyree said. "As an assistant coach to Mr. [Bob] Slagle in basketball, I watched the way he did things and it rubbed off. I'm more aware of ways to deal with situations in order to get the best results."

Coons, a starting guard on the Rams' state semifinal basketball team who says he likes pressure situations, and Greason, another who loves challenges, have the most at stake this spring, simply because they have attracted college recruiters and are expected to be professional draft choices.

Their maturing is reflected by their outlooks. Friends for years, Coons says the two are like brothers and that, "We've been together so long, we even think alike."

He continued: "At bat, I don't feel the pressure I used to, because I know the people that hit behind me can pick me up if I'm having a bad game.

Greason said, "I don't feel I have to strike out everybody. This team has already shown it can hit and play defense. We just have to keep working hard."

Williams, who was also the guidance counselor, played an important part in the development of both players. However, he was particularly instrumental in helping Coons get through a freshman year when he missed more than half the school year because of hepatitis.

The two players stepped up another level in playing and in maturing when they played for the Oriolelanders last fall. This was a team of high school players, organized by Jim Gilbert, the Orioles' East Coast scouting supervisor, which played a fall schedule against area college teams.

"Physically, it helped get my arm stronger, and mentally, it taught me to ignore the trash talk from the sidelines," Greason said.

Tyree had a winter conditioning program available this year, and, with Greason as one of the leaders, the response was much better than it had been the previous year.

At the same time, Tyree said, Coons' basketball play was helping to calm his demeanor. "He earned the starting role, and prided himself on his defense. He found a role and it has carried over to his baseball," he said.

In last week's 9-2 win over Patterson, five of the regulars were seniors, including Greason, who pitched a three-hitter, but it was the sophomores Tyree wanted to talk about later.

"We started three of them, and they drove in our first five runs. All of them are among the players who come to practice early and stay late," he said.

It's an attitude that has filtered down from the top, and, as Greason said, "We have the potential to be very good -- if we work hard."

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