Ed Gotwals: Rough 1st year for Trojan coach Scott Folmar
Let's say this right away: Scott Folmar knew exactly what he was getting into this spring.
Following coaching legend Bob Thomas as the leader of the Chambersburg baseball program after 51 very successful years was never going to be an easy task for anybody. But it's not likely anybody - Folmar included - saw this coming.
The Trojans finished with a 6-14 record, and that included an ugly nine-game losing streak to end the season and an 0-4 record against other Franklin County teams.
"I told my wife it was going to be different here (than at James Buchanan, where he coached previously) because the expectations are different," Folmar said. "I thought the fans were great and they supported us. I understand that some people will react how they will react (to the record). But that's not going to affect the things we're trying to do.
"I'm confident it will be different next year."
Folmar has a relentlessly positive personality and preached that his players needed to play with energy. That was even his preseason theme.
So it was surprising when that attitude didn't seem to carry over onto the field.
"We seemed to play with no emotion too often," Folmar said. "I'm an energetic person and that's the way we practiced, but we did not seem to play that way. We did in spurts, and we played better then, but as a whole we did not buy into that thinking all the time. For next year, that will have to change."
Senior Austin Suders said, "It was definitely a different style of coaching. Bob was more laid back and Scott was very energetic. It was hard to always be at his level."
Folmar said that when the season began, he and his staff expected the offense would score plenty of runs, but that the pitching staff and defense might have some trouble holding other teams down.
"It happened just about the complete opposite way," Folmar said.
Except for a handful of games, the pitching (4.77 earned run average) and defense (23 errors in 20 games) did their part. Hunter Brindle had a 2.26 ERA and allowed only 22 hits in 31 innings.
But the offense did not carry its share of the load.
-- The Trojans averaged only 3.3 runs per game, and reached double figures only once.
-- The team batting average was .272, and only Manning Brookens (.356) and Hayden Kissel (.333) hit over .300.
-- The team's on-base percentage (.342) was not good, but it was higher than the slugging percentage (.335).
-- Chambersburg hit only 28 extra-base hits - 22 doubles, five triples and one home run.
-- Only three players (Carlin Christian, 12, and Brookens and Austin Suders, 10 each) reached double figures in RBIs.
-- A team with plenty of speed stole only 12 bases.
That last fact can be explained easily enough. Folmar said, "We didn't have enough guys get on base, and we kept falling behind, and you can't chance giving up an out when you're two or three runs down."
Folmar pointed to two areas of hitting that made the difference.
"So many times in games we were close, and we just could not get that big hit - the one that's a game-changer or at least swings momentum," Folmar said. "That meant we were behind a lot and that put extra pressure on the pitchers."
The other thing was frustrating to Folmar.
"We want them to be aggressive batters, but we were tentative too often," Folmar said. "We kept saying to swing at that first-pitch fastball, but a lot of times they didn't. Usually, that's the best pitch you'll see. Then they'd get behind in the count and have to try to hit a breaking ball."
Suders said, "We did not think scoring runs would be an issue, it would be holding teams down. But that's not how it worked. It seemed like we were always facing the other team's No. 1 pitcher. It was frustrating. After the run we had in districts last year (finishing as the runner-up), we were expecting to do even better than that."
Chambersburg had 10 seniors on the roster this season, and Folmar acknowledges that it had to difficult for them to cope with a brand-new approach. But he believes he has a good core of players returning next year.
"Guys like Hayden Kissel, Kevin Carbaugh, Kaden Hoover and Bryce Kendall got a lot of experience this year and showed promise, and there are some kids coming up who will help us," Folmar said.
"I'm excited for next year."