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The Carroll County High School baseball team has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years and this year’s squad hopes that tradition will continue under the tutelage of first-year head coach Josh Mefford.
Mefford, a 1998 CCHS graduate and baseball alum, previously coached the Panthers’ JV team and also assistant coached for a year at Trimble County High School.
“We have a very athletic team, a very talented team, but they’re very young, immature,” Mefford said. “They are not focused, which I think will end up hurting them.”
This year’s squad has just one senior, Evan Mefford, who has never played high school baseball before. So the head coach will be counting on his nine juniors to step up and be leaders on the team.
“We have a few kids that are really, really good, likeway more advanced than the others ones, and everybody else is kind of right in there together,” he said. “There are a few kids who, like I said, if they would just get focused and work on what they need to work on, they could be really good ball players.”
Last year’s team graduated five seniors, including four pitchers. Mefford said this year’s squad will not be as deep. He has two solid starters and a closer and will fill in innings with a number of different players.
Mefford said his first goal is to have a winning record this season and that this year’s schedule will make that a definite possibility. In addition to the usual suspects, the Panthers added games with St. Henry, North Bullitt and Holmes to their schedule.
“I would really love to win Class A again,” Mefford said. “We’ve won it three years in a row. That’s kind of my ultimate goal is to win Class A, but it’s going to be very, very tough this year. … Everyone is going to be gunning for us.”
Mefford’s other goals include playing well in the NCKC tournament, winning districts and making a fourth consecutive trip to regionals.
Mefford said high school baseball’s switch to BBCOR bats this season will make a difference in the game. He said the ball does not jump off of the BBCOR bats, which are very similar to wooden bats, like it did before, which will likely impact the number of deep balls and homeruns this season. He said the change was made because of the number of homeruns and injuries recently in college baseball, which use the same bats as the high schoolers.
For Mefford, being head coach is an adjustment, but something he is also excited about.
“The biggest thing for me being a head coach is I’ve never been the center of attention and I have to be the center of attention,” he said. “I have to make all the decisions, just got a lot more responsibility and that’s something I’ve never had to do or take on. … I am excited. I think it’s going to be fun, but at the same time, it’s stressful. … You second guess yourself a lot.”