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Arrows need time to regain form

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com
Aiden Michel started the opener against Emporia for the Arrows. Ottawa used three pitchers in the loss.

There was bit of apprehension. It showed.

The Ottawa Arrows appeared timid and rusty in the season-opening doubleheader Tuesday night at Harvey M. Drake field.

The American Legion baseball team had a tough assignment on a couple of fronts. The first was just playing a game after missing the spring season. The second was slowing down Emporia, the defending Legion state champs. Ottawa did not fare well with either challenge.

Ottawa was swept by Emporia, 15-2 in four innings and 11-2 in five innings.

The players were admittedly disappointed in the performance but understood the circumstances.

“Normally I would have 22 games under my belt,” pitcher/infielder Aiden Michel said. “This was the first one. It felt good (to play), but weird though.”

Outfielder Jose Richards said Ottawa needs to learn from the performances and come back ready to work.

“There are a lot of things we did wrong,” he said. “Our mistakes were little things. We have to clean it up. We beat ourselves up and it compounded.”

Michel said nerves played a little factor in their level of play.

“I was not nervous until I got here,” he said. “We have to come together as a team. As a team, we know what we need to be like now. We have a lot of room to (improve).”

The rust showed up in all aspects of the game: pitching, fielding, hitting and the mental approach to the game.

“It has been a while,” Richards said. “A lot of the guys have not seen live pitching for a year. It is a lot different than hitting balls off tees and cages.”

Michel said baseball is a game of fundamentals and adjustments.

“It is a rudimentary sport,” he said. “We have to put pieces together here and there. We have to adjust. Tonight, we did not make adjustments. Those guys were putting good (swings) together. That was one fundamental thing we did not do. We hit the ball, but not nearly as hard as they were.”

Michel said success does not come without sacrifice.

“We have to be willing to work for it,” he said. “It is not just going to come to us. We have to work on catching fly balls and putting good at-bats together. You have to be able to communicate.”

Both players said the mental approach needs to improve and remain strong.

“We are guaranteed a season and we need to get our heads right,” Richards said.

Michel said they have to push through to the next play, inning and game.

“You have to keep going and playing,” he said. “I know the other players on the team are not happy with that (performance). We play this team (again) next week. It is not going to get easier.”

Ottawa (0-2) plays a triangular with Topeka and Iola Saturday at Drake. Ottawa and Topeka play at 10 a.m. followed by Iola-Topeka and concludes with the Ottawa-Iola contest.

Ottawa Arrows outfielder Jose Richards dives back safely into first base after a pick-off attempt.