Not all his players are out as soccer and basketball seasons continue.
And last week was just the first week of practice for the Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School baseball team.
Coach Ashley Summerlin, however, is excited about the direction of the program and about the Tiger Sharks’ prospects for the coming season.
“I think we right now have 42 players in the entire program, including middle school,” Summerlin said. “We have a lot of participants. We’re excited about what is going on.
“We feel like the baseball program is going in the right direction. We are getting ready for a new year and we’re excited about the new season.”
The Tiger Sharks will open play, with preseason classics, with a different format this season.
On Feb. 14-15, Port St. Joe will host Wewahitchka, Liberty County and North Bay Haven.
Both county squads, first Wewahitchka followed by Port St. Joe, will play Liberty County on Feb. 14 and return the following day to play North Bay Haven in the same order.
“Then we open the gate with Florida High,” Summerlin said, with that game followed by a trip to Wewahitchka and on to Arnold, Sneads and Franklin County.
That schedule front-loaded with road games balances a bit in early March when Port St. Joe plays eight consecutive home games March 3-23.
Included in that is a contest with a team from Loudon, TN.
And, of course, the end of the regular season heading into the District 4-1A tournament will feature a home-and-home with Bozeman along with a game at Wakulla.
The schedule is brutal; in 2019 the Tiger Sharks had the strongest strength of schedule in all of Class 1A, according to Maxpreps.
“You’ve got to schedule like that just to see how good you are,” Summerlin said. “And we are preparing for the district and playoffs where it all becomes potential one-and-done.
“When you come into the district (tournament) you have to ready to play and every time out you have just that one day.”
To weather the gauntlet, Summerlin said, much will depend on leadership from seniors such as John Austin Gee, Kelvin Griffin and Andre Hornsby, to name a few.
“We have a good group of seniors and we also have a good group of juniors,” Summerlin said. “We are going to rely on their experience and leadership.”
That senior class, Summerlin added, has experienced success.
The group is 44-35 during the prior three seasons, including district, regional and state championships and two trips into the regional round of the Florida High School Athletics Association playoffs.
The team will also be deep in pitchers, though the mound is also where the Tiger Sharks have the least experience.
“We have more pitchers, but we don’t have a lot of experience among them,” Summerlin said. “We have a lot of young guys who will have a chance to step up.”