Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Coach Suplee evaluates seasons' progress
Coach Suplee's Bio
In his first season wearing Lancer blue (as a coach that is), Pitching Coach Erik Suplee and Longwood’s baseball team currently stands at 14-8 overall. Though Suplee has concerns with his pitching staff, he believes putting wins on the stats page is the only ink worth interpreting. Suplee took a few minutes to discuss some of the issues he has, along with a few things outside of the baseball world.
“We have a tremendous problem with lack of consistency,” said Suplee. “We’ve had too many instances where guys pitch a great outing and follow up with a terrible one. Baseball and more specifically pitching are all about consistency.”
Suplee acknowledged the fact that having bad days is part of the game, however usually in the form of some kind of slump rather than game-to-game. “Another part of the problem is confidence,” Suplee said. “We really need to concentrate more on throwing strikes and paying attention to details and the different situations in games.”
Suplee also said that part of the problem could be with the transition from off-season to in season preparation. “Once the season gets going, weight –lifting and conditioning lighten up a little,” Suplee said. “We also throw less during practice and issue the guys more off days to preserve their arms and maybe I need to re-evaluate that.”
Through the first 22 games of the season, Suplee’s pitching staff has posted an ERA (earned run average) of 5.95 through 180 innings. One comforting stat for Suplee however is the 3-0 record his squad has in games decided by 1 run, showing that his bullpen has come through in crunch time. Despite the seemingly high ERA, in Suplee’s 4-man starting rotation, no pitcher has a losing record.
On paper Suplee realizes that his pitchers stats aren’t where he would hope, however still acknowledges some positive upsides. “John Walker has thrown really well for us and I would say has been our most consistent pitcher all year,” said Suplee. Walker is 3-1 on the season and posts an even 4.00 ERA while throwing two complete games and a staff leading 36.1 innings pitched.
“I’ve also been impressed with the development of Paul Heidler,” said Suplee. “He’s got a ridiculous throwing arm he just needs to learn how to harness it.” Heidler, a senior and first year pitcher, has been known for his cannon in the outfield which led to the transition to pitcher. Heidler is 2-1 on the season and leads all starters in hits and earn runs allowed.
In their game plan, Suplee doesn’t try anything fancy in effort of getting the win. “Our idea is to get our starters as deep in the game as possible, ideally with the lead,” said Suplee. “If our starters get deep enough, we usually just give the ball to Lance (Harting) to let him close it out.”
Harting has had his troubles in the early parts of the season blowing 4 games and picking up 3 losses, including a heart-breaking blown save opportunity vs. Richmond on February, 24th where he allowed 4 runs in the 9th blowing a 4-3 lead.
Despite Hartings early troubles, Suplee says he and Head Coach Buddy Bolding haven’t lost faith in their closer. “He’s our guy,” said Suplee. “He’s proven himself in the past and I still don’t hesitate putting the ball in his hands in the 8th or 9th inning.”
Suplee also added that like himself, coach Bolding’s only concern is winning. “He just wants us to pitch well enough that we can keep our offense in the game,” said Suplee. “And so far, going by our record, we’ve been doing a decent job of that.”
Suplee says making the immediate transition from player to coach is the only true test. “I love being out there with the guys even though it is hard watching from the bench sometimes,” said Suplee. “Not being on the hill and in control is definitely a new experience for me but I’m getting used to it.”
A far as coaching goes, Suplee doesn’t take anything for granted. “It definitely has its ups and downs,” said Suplee. “But just like any other job, if you don’t love what you’re doing then you shouldn’t be doing it,” said Suplee.