Thompson Baseball: The Mental Edge on the Road to May
Thompson baseball is piling up the wins, but perhaps the more impressive number is that they’ve come from behind in 13 of those victories.
It’s something head coach Frankie Perez would credit to the team’s mental toughness they created back in the offseason. Early on in the season, Perez spoke about their preparation for the year and being ready to respond when adversity happens.
“We do a 10-15 minute mental training every day. These are high school kids, they're going to make mistakes, but if you get them mentally strong and get them to believe in each other then I think special things can happen,” says Perez. “The guys are not giving up on each other, they feel and believe in their mind that they can win and to me that’s everything.”
The 2022 season didn’t end the way the coaching staff and team had hoped, but valuable lessons were learned in that time of frustration.
“It was what a first year should look like, we made some strides and when we played our last game of the regular season, it mattered and to me that’s always positive,” said Perez. “We had a chance to make the playoffs and didn’t get it done and it was disappointing, but if it didn’t hurt this much I’d be doing something else.”
Getting that mental edge will continue to be a huge X-factor down the stretch as the Warriors face three ranked opponents in Area 5 who made the postseason last year.
“This is by far one of the toughest areas in the state from top to bottom because you’ve got three schools who have playoff experience from last year,” says Perez. “I truly believe there’s going to be two teams that come out of it capable of making a run in the playoffs.”
This year’s senior class has been special for Perez both in their approach to the game and how they’ve supported their teammates throughout the process.
“We’re going to go as far as the senior leadership takes us, this is their last year playing with their boys so I️ always lean to them for leadership,” says Perez. “They handle failure in such a mature way, I’m so proud of them. The way we’ve studied the mind this year, they understand nothing good comes from a negative reaction. They’re in the dugout, they’re great teammates.”
Senior pitcher and Snead State commit Ben Pearman had surgery after his first start of last season and wasn’t available for the rest of the year. Three sophomores had to step up on the mound as a result, fueling Thompson’s depth for this year and now Pearman is making good on his comeback with two wins in three appearances.
“His fast ball is back up to 87, he’s throwing breaking balls, change up is working well and his arm looks good,” says Perez. “As it gets warmer he’s going to continue to get better and when the adrenaline starts flowing he’s going to be fantastic for us.”
Pearman’s addition to a pitching staff that features Landon Alton, Zach Wyatt and several other hurlers with three wins a piece. Overall, Perez has been able to use double digit players on the mound this season keeping his aces fresh.
“Landon’s made some huge strides and he’s headed in the right direction in terms of his confidence,” says Perez. “He’s worked his tail off for us so I’m excited for him as well.”
“What do the kids say? He wants all the smoke,” Perez said with a chuckle. “Zach wants to pitch against the best, he wants the ball when it matters the most.”
Thompson’s bats have also been active to say the least. Captains like catcher Ethan Crook lead off a skilled lineup with the likes of fellow captains Tucker Arrington, Peryn Bland and senior Mac Bowman.
“Mac had to do a lot for us last year because we were very inexperienced, but he’s settled into the outfield, hits at the bottom of the lineup and he’s embraced his role,” says Perez. “I️ like him there because with one swing of the bat he can flip the script.”
Wyatt Williams, whose sister Laney plays for the softball team, is a freshman with a ton of promise as well hitting in the DH spot who can also spare Crook at catcher.
And when it comes to Arrington, Coach Perez have high praise for his contributions to the team both on and off the field.
“He’s our spiritual leader and he was also picked as a unanimous team captain,” said Perez. “He’s the guy the players go to when they have a question for me. He’s a great hitter too, but he’s also the type of guy I’d want my daughters to date.”
The chemistry the team has built through team activities ranges from their offseason study sessions to players handing Perez cards with his mantra “The standard is the standard” to their theme for year two: RTM.
“On the back of our shirts we have ‘RTM’ on the back and it means ‘Road To May’ and the deep playoffs happen in May,” says Perez. “I️ want our guys to experience playing in May because playing in May is awesome. The atmosphere, the weather is warm, so if you ask me what the goal is for this year is being mentally tough and playing in May.”
The results speak for themselves, but Coach Perez and his staff understand it’s not how the team will start the season, but how they finish that will determine how they’ll look back at this year.
Still, this team’s current trajectory points to a special finish that will put fans across the state on notice.