DICKSON — With belief that it can win, Dickson will step onto the diamond today at 4 p.m. at Plainview High School.
Plainview defeated its Lake Country Conference rival in both meetings this season, but Dickson won’t be intimidated.
“I told the kids ‘It doesn’t matter what name is on the front of the jersey, you show up every day and you go to battle and you try to get a win’,” said Dickson coach Trent Patterson. “We’re just trying to change the mentality. We harp on winning the small battles, because you’ve got to win the small battles before you can win the big wars.”
Patterson said the kids are starting to buy in to one another and believe in each other.
“That’s what we’ve tried to build all year long,” Patterson said. “Don’t just believe in (one person). You’ve got to believe in everybody. You’ve got to be able to take accountability: If the person in front of you doesn’t get the job done, you’ve got to know you’re gonna to get it done. It’s been a tough mindset to change, but it’s slowly getting better.”
That unity and belief will help bridge the drastic difference in tradition the two schools boast, an intangible deemed irrelevant by Dickson senior Chandler Smith.
“With the confidence that we had after the win against Kingston on Senior Night, I feel like we go into districts thinking, ‘Hey. we’ve got a chance’,” Smith said. “I’m pretty confident. I’m ready to go throw. I’m ready for the first game. Bret Jones is probably ready to throw, too.
“I honestly think that we have a pretty good chance of, if not winning both on Friday, but splitting them and winning the third (game) on Friday. I think we have a pretty good shot of getting out of districts.”
To do so, Dickson will have to solve Drake Harper’s pitching.
Smith praised Harper as a tough opponent, citing his ability to put the ball in play. On the mound, Smith said Harper has velocity, and movement on his fastball. His curveball has good movement too.
“In all reality, just put your foot down early, be ready to hit the ball and believe in yourself,” Smith said. “I think that’s their biggest fear: Going up against him. A fastball’s a fastball. Put your foot down early and see how far you can hit it.”
An extra day of preparation — district play was pushed back a day — has allowed Dickson to implement a few more base-running techniques and mix up the number system associated with base running, Patterson said.
Against Kingston, Colten Cook laid down the walk-off squeeze bunt. He did so with two strikes, as each of his prior attempts were foul — on a safety and suicide squeeze.
“We’ve tweaked his swing all year long,” Patterson said. “His mechanics are better now, but he’s not getting the production, so he’s still frustrated. For him to get a confidence-booster like that, especially going into playoff time, it helps out a ton.
“He’s one of our better bunters. He looked down at me, nodded and I took that as, ‘He wanted it again. He had confidence he could get it down.’ We called it again and he got it down with two strikes.”
That play made Smith — who struck out nine in the Comets’ 2-1 win on April 24 against Kingston — a winner. Smith, Landon Gross, Ian Pruitt and Brandon Wineblood were the seniors honored.
The win allowed Dickson to secure one of its goals to improve its record from last season, but not by much.
That game, Patterson said, was one of the most fun
“I talked to Landon and Chandler on Senior Night, and they got a little emotional,” Patterson said. “Hopefully this is a stepping stone in the right direction, not just for Dickson baseball, but Dickson’s athletic program as a whole.”
Patterson said Gross and Smith laid the foundation, and hopefully the young guys see what the two seniors did and continue to improve annually until the program is where it wants to be.
“Coach Patterson, he coaches to win state every year,” Smith said. “Coach (Tyler) Lampkin coaches to win state every year. I play to try to win state every year. I play to go out and have fun, but I’m really competitive. I like to win. I hate to lose.
“Hopefully we go out, get two ‘W’s on Friday, and that way we can relax on Saturday.”