Note-swapping mixed message for area coaches

Note-swapping mixed message for area coaches

May 15th, 2013 by Ward Gossett in Sports - Preps

TSSAA BASEBALL REGION FINALS

Class A

Marion County (22-10) at Silverdale Baptist (23-2-1), 5

Class AA

East Hamilton (25-12) at Sequoyah (26-8), 6

Class AAA

Cookeville (33-1-1) at Ooltewah (23-11), 7

Scouting, or note-swapping, happens all season long with some baseball teams, but the practice of learning one's opponent becomes more prevalent in the postseason.

At least one friendship in the not-too-distant past was jeopardized over a postseason scouting report.

"There's no written rule saying that we can't give scouting reports," Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley said. "I think it's a little bit of an unwritten rule that once you're out of district play, you try to keep it in-house and not sell each other out. I think a lot of times it gets down to a personal level and/or a respect level."

Hensley's Trojans were eliminated from the postseason Tuesday.

"The thing that's frustrating about getting or giving help comes when you're in a sectional game trying to clinch a state tournament berth. It's pretty much every man for himself," Hensley added.

The Chattanooga area is down to five teams heading into this evening's region championships. Ooltewah hosts Cookeville in AAA, East Hamilton is on the road at Sequoyah in AA and Silverdale Baptist Academy is at home against Marion County in Class A.

The subject of scouting isn't necessarily taboo, but some coaches shy away from even discussing it.

Ooltewah's Brian Hitchcox didn't.

"I sometimes think scouting is overrated," he said. "Look at football where they exchange film. I think football coaches sometimes overestimate all the info they think they have to have. It cracks me up when football guys spend so much time breaking down film and putting in formations and then give the ball to the same running back 33 times."

Major league teams are stats- and video-crazy.

"They have advance scouts. They have an unbelievable amount of electronic data from statistical breakdowns -- percentages, counts and locations -- and in the clubhouse on every TV there will be video of that day's opposing pitcher," said Hitchcox, who played Class AAA for several seasons and had numerous short stays with the Philadelphia Phillies. "Then if you want specific, a player can go into the video room and queue up every at-bat against a certain pitcher and see what that pitcher threw and when. At the end of the day, how much does all that help? It's debatable."

Silverdale coach Jonathan Adcock didn't ask for scouting reports on Marion County, but he saw the Warriors up close, playing them twice.

"I don't know if there's an agreement [about passing along reports], but we had played Marion County twice this season, so we didn't have anyone at their game [Monday] with CSAS," Adcock said. "I don't know if they had anyone here or not.

"I will call a coach to get a scouting report on another team, but I never want to put a coach in a difficult position so I tell them that up front. If they're not comfortable talking about another team for any reason, I respect that and end the conversation."

There is such a thing as too much information.

"Basically what I want to know is how my pitchers match up with their hitters," Hitchcox said, "and, honestly, you can tell a lot about a kid by his swings in the on-deck circle."

Another drawback for many minor sports is the lack of manpower. Very few, if any, local schools have a varsity baseball assistant in the school; many of the assistants have jobs in the private sector.

Notes: Homeless East Hamilton practiced Tuesday at Lookout Valley. If the Hurricanes win today, it's likely they'll return to Chattanooga State to host a sectional game Friday. ... All winners of today's games will host Friday while the losers will travel. ... Cookeville, which is playing Ooltewah, picked up the tie in its 33-1-1 record in Ooltewah's tournament -- 3-3 against Collierville. ... Soddy-Daisy had Cookeville on the ropes Monday but twice left the bases loaded and eventually lost 8-3. ... Silverdale has two wins over Marion this year. The Seahawks beat the Warriors 6-3 and 13-0. Friday's Class A opponents will be Friendship Christian and Trousdale County, while those in AA will be Murfreesboro Central Magnet and Upperman and those in AAA will be Riverdale and Tullahoma.