BAY COUNTY, Fla (WJHG/WECP) - Summer; the time of year when most of our high school athletes take advantage of their time off at the beach relaxing.
But for local baseball players, "summer time" means "baseball time."
"I love summer time because it's really good for the freshman and sophomore to get used to varsity pitching," Arnold Baseball Senior Lucas Dunn said. "They get to see that better pitching, and step into the high school role."
"It's not like we can afford to take off," Arnold Baseball Coach Greg Gumm said. "We play in an ultra tough area here in the Panhandle, and the reason for that is people do put the time in. When it's summer, we're going to try to get in as much baseball as we can."
Just like their programs, each coach is different.
"Right around June 1st is usually when we start, give or take depending on when school ends," Bozeman Baseball Coach Jeff Patton said. "We don't do any practices during the summer. We might in the very beginning just to get ready, but we play nearly every day if we can."
"We usually come in on Monday through Thursday, and we play Monday through Thursday usually in the afternoons," Coach Gumm said. "We'll come in in the morning and work on fundamentals, maybe some batting practice and whatever we feel like we need."
"We don't have 50 games," Rutherford Baseball Coach Steven Cheney said. "Some teams go through July, we have 25 games scheduled for the month of June."
Just like the temperature, the competition heats up in the summer.
"We have like 50 something games, so competition is pretty tough," Bozeman 8th grader Barrett Johnston said. "Usually we have upcoming eighth graders on the team."
"It's fun to play against the other counties and see what they're doing in the summer," Dunn said. "See how they're getting better, and see the new kids that they have coming up and how they're going to be next year."
"We get a good look at what guys can and can't do," Coach Patton said. "I can find some things that the boys may struggle at so then comes spring time, I maybe don't put them in that situation, put them in more successful situations."
"It's not whether you win or lose during the summer, it's kids getting experience in and as coaches, us getting to see them in different positions," Coach Gumm said. "A lot of times we'll have players that have moved out from the year before and we're looking to fill those roles. It's a good opportunity for the kids, let them show what they can do, get to evaluate them and just enjoy the summer with them."
The Arnold Marlins wrap up their summer baseball season the last week in July. The Bucks wrap up last week of June, and Coach Cheney wraps up his summer program July 1st.