By rule of Division 1 standards, no NCAA teams can officially begin team practices until February 1st. When I last spoke with my old friend and Longwood University's head pitching coach Erik Suplee, besides my one of my frequent visits to the trailers for a chat on the Florida Marlins and steroids, it was nearing the end of January and he and the rest of the baseball team were preparing for the start of spring practices.
Now well into team practice sessions, I frequently catch warm-ups in the outfield and batting practice in the cages seeing as I conveniently reside directly across the street from the baseball field on Farmville’s highway,
Suplee says that besides practice, he and his players’ training and preparation goes beyond the practice fields. “We usually do 30 min. runs in the morning about 4 times a week,” said Suplee. “I also like to throw in two 1-hour individual sessions a week to work on mechanics and building arm strength.”
Another Longwood baseball spring practice tradition is inter-squad scrimmages twice a week, usually Saturday and Sunday of each week. Suplee says the goal is for his starters to get at least 5 innings of work followed by the bullpen pitchers throwing an inning or two on back-to-back days. “The idea is to just get the guys as prepared as possible and to simulate some real situations they’ll most likely face in game situations,” said Suplee. “We like to keep the same pattern of having them on Saturday & Sunday so that we look at is as using the week prior as preparation as if it we’re a real game.”
Longwood Baseball hits the field this Friday (Feb. 20th) for its first test and home opener vs.
If there was a weakness for Suplee’s pitching staff he says it would definitely be depth. “The guys we have in our rotation are all solid and I expect great things from,” said Suplee. “It’s just that we’re not real deep after our core rotation.”
LU Baseball 2009 Spring Starting Rotation:
John Walker II, Sr.
Paul Heidler, Sr. Warrenton,
Troy Dickman So.
Chris Briere So.
When it comes to preparing however, players aren’t the only ones in crunch time. Head Coach Bolding and the rest of his coaching staff have the tough task of scouting and analyzing their opponents strengths and weaknesses. “We usually rely on information and scouting reports from coaches and friends that we have and we put together some sort of a game plan,” Suplee explained. “We what kind of hitters they have, what they’ll most likely try to do offensively, who to watch out for on the base paths and things like that.”
As a coach, Erik says the biggest thing he’s learned so far is the importance of preparation. “It’s not just making sure they’re there for practice and games but that they’re ready as well,” Suplee said. “It’s also been interesting to learn how each guy is different and that I need to interact with each individual differently.”
A Daily Checklist for Coach Suplee:
-check-in with the Florida Marlins
-events/games coming up for LU
- email players regarding lifting schedule and running schedule
-which guys are up for individual sessions
-set bullpen times individual & team