Roy Dixon knew last season would be a struggle for his Central baseball team after having graduated 17 players from the previous team.
But he had no idea it would be as difficult as it turned out to be. The Red Devils managed just seven wins and went 7-30.
"Last year was definitely not what we are accustomed to," Dixon said. "We took our lumps and bruises. But we knew we were in store for some after graduating 17 seniors the year before.
"Our goal last year was to get better on a daily basis. But then we started getting injuries, and every time I tried to make a move, it was robbing Peter to pay Paul."
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As Dixon talks, it is apparent that the season continues to take its toll.
"To be honest with you it has been a long 9 months, waiting to get out there and get started again," Dixon said. "We are a year older and a year stronger, more mature. I hope that equals a few more wins."
The long wait to start a new season ends today as the Red Devils host Bearegard for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m.
The Red Devils return a pair of players who have already signed with Division I schools plus they have added a pair of transfers from Russell County.
Outfielder Jamal Howard and shortstop Blake Johnson have signed with Alabama and UAB, respectively.
Howard hit .355 with six home runs, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases last season, while Johnson hit .323 with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
"We have Blake and Jamal and a few others, so we knew we have a core to build off of," Dixon said. "I think the main thing is is that we are a year older, and we put in a lot of hard work in the weight room."
Will Ziebol and Coleson Taylor transferred from Russell County after long-time coach Tony Rasmus left.
Ziebol went 6-2 with a 1.61 ERA for the Warriors last season, while Taylor batted .300 with three doubles and 17 RBIs.
"Coleson brings over instant leadership," Dixon said. "He came from a winning program. He knows how to win, has that winning attitude. He is a vocal leader, and that is something we missed."