Advertisement

Shives' vision becomes reality

Clear Spring enjoyed its finest season in 16 years

Clear Spring enjoyed its finest season in 16 years

June 22, 2008|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Clear Spring coach Mark Shives experienced a serious bout of déja vu this season -- which is remarkable considering the Blazers put together the kind of season not seen in Clear Spring in 16 years.

"It's kind of like you envision something and hope you can fulfill the script, and that's what this season was," Shives said. "There was a lot of promise and a lot of expectations, which was new for the school. The kids accepted the challenge and rolled with it.

"It's a double-edge sword. You fight so hard to get to the top, and once you get up there, you realize you're not Cinderella, you're the team everyone's shooting for."

The Blazers have grown up under Shives over the past few seasons, and this season was the one in which it all came together. Riding a pair of aces and a lineup that was dangerous from top to bottom, Clear Spring went 18-3 and won its first Maryland Class 1A West title since 1992 and a share of its first-ever MVAL Antietam title.

Advertisement

Shives is the 2008 Herald-Mail All-Area and Washington County Baseball Coach of the Year.

"In our school, our philosophy has to be, you get a core group and start to mature them," said Shives. "Then you go back to the beginning. There will be a point where we start with another young group and start another four-year run. We might have a year or two we're respectable, and then have to rebuild. But we're a team and a program that's trying to do the right thing."

The Blazers' success started with senior hurlers Josh Constable and John Kehr, who combined to go 11-1 with a 1.18 ERA. Both earned NCAA Division I scholarships, Constable to Radford University, Kehr to Liberty University.

"It was nice to know you had two guys who took care of business every night, and we had several other arms," Shives said. "Our pitching staff started to mature when they realized we had a very underrated defense. We only had nine errors all year. When you're out there pitching and you know the team behind you will make plays, that adds a whole other level of mystique."

Clear Spring could also send balls flying over the outfield fence. The Blazers hit 26 home runs, with five players -- Aaron Mills (three), Jordan Thurber (seven), Constable (five), Kehr (five) and Brett Turner (three) -- each having at least three.

"It's not the biggest park," Shives said of Clear Spring's diamond, "But we hit a lot of home runs to right-center, and in my first few years I coached here I don't know if we had an opposite-field home run. I think we hit more home runs to right-center then left."

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|