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USJ baseball moves through season showing improvement

Bruin development

By Brandon Shields

Managing editor

Baseball is a game of inches, and University School of Jackson baseball coach Danny Giles said the space that sometimes has separated his team from success has been as thin as the chalk coating marking foul lines on the field.

“We’ve developed a good bit this season, and really all the way back to August,” Giles said. “We’re fortunate at USJ to have indoor facilities to get a lot of work done in throughout the year, and we’ve got a lot of guys that play only baseball.

“So there’s been a lot of opportunities for the team to really come together during workouts before practices began earlier this year.”

The season began with a bit more struggles than Giles anticipated early on, but he likes how the group has responded.

“They’ve been working hard all year, and we can see differences even now from when the season started,” Giles said. “The way they respond to adversity and how they respond in various in-game situations is different compared to the beginning of the season.”

The Bruins had an important pair of games in their district earlier this week against Jackson Christian.

In the first game at Jackson Christian, the Bruins jumped out to an early lead and held it for the remainder of the game.

The next game on the following night at home, USJ had to come from behind to get the win.

“On Monday, we got that big lead and then let them right back in it with a few runs in the bottom of the first inning,” Giles said. “But we kept our composure, got out of the inning and stayed ahead of them. That might not have happened earlier in the season.

“And we’ve had a few opportunities for comeback wins already this season, but we waited around until the sixth or seventh inning and would run out of outs before we could tie or take the lead. But we didn’t wait as long in that game. That’s big for us.”

Halfway through the district schedule, USJ is 4-0 with games remaining against Fayette Academy and Tipton-Rosemark.

But the Bruins are playing well as of this week.

In the Jackson Christian series and the previous three games, the Bruin hitters are combining for a .360 batting average, led by Harrison McClain’s .560 average over that stretch.

Freshman pitcher Braydin Jones is typically the starter on Tuesdays in the second game in district play each week, and his last three outings have been complete game wins.

“We’re dealing with teenagers that play high school baseball, so anything can happen on any day,” Giles said. “But we’ve got seven or eight pitchers we can put on the mound any time.

“And once we get into postseason play, knowing we’ve got at least one guy who can give us a complete game when we put the ball in his hands can be a huge help to us in winning tournaments. But we’re still a few weeks away from that, and the goal now is just to get better and better a little each day.”

Brandon Shields,

University School of Jackson freshman Braydin Jones watches a pitch while looking to advance to third base during the Bruins’ game at Jackson Christian on Monday, April 1, 2024. (GAIL BAILEY/The Jackson Post)
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