TORRINGTON – The Torrington Tigers Legion A baseball team had its first practice Monday, and they have their work cut out for them with the bump up in divisions for this season.
“We are just getting going. Getting the arms in shape is the main thing and getting the kids thinking baseball again,” manager Andy Brown said. “We are just going to do fundamentals to start out and start adding the situational stuff as we go. For the first couple of weeks, we are just going to be getting back into baseball.”
“It’s good to be out here and to be with the boys,” Tiger Cameron Murphy said of the first day of practice. “It’s great to be all back together because in other sports we aren’t all together. It’s time to get out here and get our arms going.”
The Tigers will face stiff competition this year. In 2017, the team competed in the 15-and-under division, but this year they moved up to the Legion A division, which is for 17-and-under teams.
“We’re definitely here to play baseball,” Tiger Sam Firminhac said of stepping up in divisions. “It’s going to be nice to get some good competition in there and it’s going to make us better and hopefully we can continue to succeed at this level.
“It’s just going to be putting in the time and coming to practice everyday and working hard,” Firminhac added on what the Tigers need to do to step up to their new competition. “We just have to work as hard as we can.”
According to Brown, Torrington will need to adjust to pitching in the new division.
“It’s going to be a challenge. I have to make the kids aware of what we are diving in to,” he said. “We’re going to see a lot better arms. We need to also get our arms in shape as fast as we can so we can get in the bullpen and pitch.”
This group of Tigers has shared the diamond with each other for several years now. A majority of the team has stuck together since entering the Legion baseball ranks.
“It helps us a lot being together for so long,” Murphy said. “We know how to play together.”
On top of the group of players working together for several years now, Brown is entering his second season at the helm of the program, and he said he hopes to rely on last years’ experience with the squad to help him as a coach this year.
“We know each other now. I know what the kids’ capabilities are,” Brown said. “I know who to put in what spot and who I’m comfortable with in a pinch running situation or who I need or bunt, or any situation the game may present. I think that’s going to help a lot.”
This group of guys has experienced success on the diamond as well. In each of the past three years, Torrington has finished runner-up at the state tournament. Last year, the Tigers reached the state title game against Jackson, falling in a winner-takes-all game, 10-8. Torrington posted a 23-14 record a season ago with a 12-3 mark over the final 15 games of the year.
“I hope we can continue the success,” Firminhac said. “We are well coached and we should have another good year like we have been having in the past. As long as we work hard and put in the time, it’ll happen.”
If the Tigers do make a run at the state title game again, Torrington fans will have a front-row seat. The Legion A State Tournament will be in Torrington this year and because of the way the districts are set up, the Tigers are guaranteed a spot.
“It’s going to be a big help to have it here,” Murphy said. “Hopefully a lot of fans will come and it will be good.”
There is a lot of baseball to be played between the first day of practice and the state tournament, so the Tigers will be taking things one game at a time.
“It’s definitely game by game. Every game is one step closer to the state championship,” Firminhac said. “That is kind of what Andy has been telling us since he has been coaching. That’s a good little motto we have.”