AVON PARK — The 2015 college baseball season is still a number of months away, but that isn’t stopping the South Florida State College Panthers from gearing towards the new season. The Panthers wrapped-up their first week of practice on Saturday and coach Rick Hitt was pleased with what he saw from his players.
“They’ve been very coachable this week,” he said. “I’m encouraged from what I’ve seen.”
The Panthers will begin their fall season on Sept. 13 and Hitt said the fall practices and games are an excellent way to get the players familiar with the college game, while many of his players will also be making the adjustment to college life and college-level classes.
“We have 13 returning players and 14 new guys so with that is an acclaimation process, as there is every year, but so far, so good,” he said. “I like what I’ve seen.”
On Saturday, the Panthers played a simulated game with Hitt pitching from 45 feet away. Several innings began with a runner on second base, so that the batters would hit the ball to the right side of the field, while also giving the fielders something to think about.
“We want to put the ball in play and get the guys in as many different situations as we can,” Hitt said.
The field was a bit wet in some areas after Friday’s heavy rains, but the weather hasn’t been an issue so far for the Panthers, which is something Hitt said doesn’t hold true every year.
The Panthers will play double-headers on Saturday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 14, at the Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale to begin the fall slate and both the players and coaches are anxious to take the field against another team.
“Lake Myrtle — that will be our first live action,” Hitt said. “We’ll have a few inter-squad games next week and the week after and we’re looking forward to it.”