Zack Andrews believes in his team. Dropping only two athletes from last year’s roster, the Douglas Cats head coach knows what his returning lineup is capable of and remains optimistic following a rough patch against AA-teams to kick off the season.
A good example of his team’s determination was on display the evening of May 29 as the team returned to Nida Field for a doubleheader against the Wheatland Lobos.
When Wheatland shot out to an early 6-1 advantage in the first inning of the opening game, the Cats could have easily bowed their heads and admitted defeat.
But they didn’t.
In the final two innings, Douglas put up four runs while the Lobos struggled. Wheatland prevailed 8-6, but considering how the game began, Andrews was pleased with the resiliency his team had to stay in the game until the final pitch was thrown.
“We were down 6-0 in the first game and worked our way back into it,” Andrews said. “By the end of the game, we were playing a little better.”
The Cats pushed into the second game, as the intensity experienced late in the first game led them to topple the Lobos in a convincing 13-3 victory.
Andrews liked what he saw from the pitching mound from Andres Robles, who finished the game with 62 strikes on 94 pitches.
The week was just getting started for the Cats as they ventured to Riverton for a tournament Saturday and Sunday. In similar fashion as earlier in the week, they were met with a taste of adversity.
The Lovell Mustangs brought a 17-3 loss for the Cats at the onset of the tournament, but they didn’t let the loss get them down for long.
The loss moved the Cats to play Green River later in the day, which started out as closely contested between the two. By the top of the fourth, Douglas led by just one run, 6-5, but closed the game by outscoring the Knights 5-3 to earn an 11-8 victory.
To round out the weekend, the Cats returned to the field for a second contest against the Knights on Sunday.
A 4-0 lead to start the game put Douglas in a comfortable position to start things off, but Green River retaliated and closed the gap after earning four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Douglas secured the game with a three-run seventh inning, winning 7-5.
The busy week gave Andrews a good opportunity to observe his team’s progress thus far in the season and set the course for what lies ahead as midseason rolls around.
“We need to pitch less walks,” he said Monday as he looked ahead to the week. “We’ve got good arms, but we need to be more consistent in the strike zone and make people hit to beat us.”
Andrews recognizes his team is much stronger than its overall record of 4-8 suggests, but expects the latter half of the season to be a much different story.
“We’ve got a ton of talent and a ton of potential,” he said. “I expect us to get a few more wins as the season goes on.”
For him, big changes for the entire team will come when pitching is dialed in.
“If we can throw strikes we will be tough to beat,” he said. “We just gotta compete in the strike zone and play.”
The Cats host Gillette at home June 5 with games at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. They then travel to Spearfish June 7 for a tournament before returning to Douglas June 11 for a double-header against Scottsbluff at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.