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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Veteran Cougars squad enters 2007 with confidence

Monday, March 26, 2007

North Putnam hurler Jake Mullis returns to lead the Cougars as a senior. Mullis and the Cougars hope to build on last year's success, when they reached the sectional final and Mullis earned class 2A All-State honors.
BAINBRIDGE -- North Putnam's baseball squad is confident it can duplicate its success from a season ago with the help of seven returning starters as well as five returning seniors.

"I'm pretty optimistic," first year coach Norm Fish said.

And optimistic he should be. Besides having seven returning starters from last year, the Cougars will also have two seniors returning from injuries.

Brayden Dahlstrom and Tyler Trent collided in the field during a game last season, resulting in both players sustaining injuries. The game was delayed for nearly an hour while Trent was moved from the field and taken to a hospital for treatment for a possible leg injury. Fish commented on how much of a plus it is to have both players back on the field and most of all both players healthy.

"It's a big plus to have both of them back," Fish commented. "It's a tribute to them to get themselves ready to play. We're really glad to have them back."

One of the first obstacles the Cougars will have to endure is facing off against county and conference rival Greencastle the first game after spring break.

"I'd be really optimistic if not for spring break," Fish said. "They're going to throw and hit while their on vacation; they take it pretty seriously."

The Cougars should be in good hands this year as its two top pitchers are back on the mound.

Senior Jake Mullis and junior Kyle Rooker will be North Putnam's one-two punch this season.

Mullis is coming off a season where during one stretch in conference games, he struck out 39-of-42 batters he faced en route to being selected to the All-State Class 2A team.

"I hope it will be as good as last year and better," Fish responded about his expectations of Mullis' season. "He was a force on the mound last year and I expect the same."

Right now Fish is looking at five players taking the mound for NPHS.

"Jake will be number one and Kyle is number two right now. There's also Brayden Dahlstrom, Brian Blaydes and Griffen Dahlstrom," he said.

Mullis and Rooker not only led the charge from the mound, they also are a force at the plate. Mullis hit for five homers and 25 RBI and Rooker led the team with seven homers.

Fish also expects his seniors to help set the tone for the season as well as show some of the younger players how to lead.

"It's great to have five senior leaders," Fish said. "I've called on them right from the get go, from the very first practice. Every drill we do, I expect them to set the example.

"We've got the potential to be a pretty good baseball team but that depends on how hard you work."

North Putnam has reached the sectional final two years in a row, only to fall short of its goal. This season the team will stick to basic and let the season play itself out.

"I didn't want to set anything specific. Our goals are to improve everyday in practice, just be the best we can be," Fish said. "If we can do that, the wins will take care of themselves."

When asked what his team's strength is, Fish responded quickly -- speed and experience.

"We've got a lot of speed. Everyone on this team can run," he said. "Our speed is something I will try to utilize."

On a team chocked full of experienced player, Fish will not let the simple things escape them. When talking about what his team need to work; preparation was first on his mind.

"We need to focus on getting ready to play -- getting mentally prepared to play," Fish commented. "I'm not worried about when things are going good, but when time are bad, that's when we need to focus and stick to our gameplan."

Fish also is keeping a cautious eye on his teams opponents and not peering too far down the road.

"I'm concerned about everyone," he said. "We haven't seen a pitcher yet. I respect all of our opponents this year. I don't know how good they're going to be, all I can say is I know what we have.

"I think we have a good balance," Fish observed, "That would be a good word for us."

North Putnam begins its season on the road against Greencastle April 2 at 4:30 p.m.

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