BARTONVILLE, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The first half of the conference season didn’t go as well as the Limestone Rockets had hoped.
They were 1-6 through seven games.
“We didn’t plan for this, for sure,” said senior Travis Lutz. “Our class of 2021, only had six losses our first two seasons. Coming into the season, we were expecting the same.”
The Rockets were playing tightly, according to head coach Josh Caruso.
“Our practices (two weeks ago) were extremely intense,” Caruso said. “I could tell the kids were stressed, thinking they couldn’t mess up. I said, let’s get loose.”
So to shake things up, the Limestone coaching staff called for a memorable practice, which came after a couple of tough losses and three straight days of rain. Players thought the practice would be indoors because the field was water-logged.
But Caruso and assistant coach Eddie Mathews brought their players out to the field. In the rain on May 18.
The practice was just the opposite of intense. Caruso was hoping to change the mindset of his player.
“Mathews and I concocted this whole plan to hit fly balls and do a a little sliding exhibition out there,” Caruso aid.
They did. And the coaches led the way by running the bases and sliding headfirst into makeshift bases.
In the rain.
“We were sliding all over the place,” said Limestone senior Gavin Buskirk. ” We were in the outfield sliding, diving, jumping around. We were diving over our shoulders. Puddles everywhere.”
The players had no idea this was the kind of practice being planned for the day.
“None of us thought this was going to happen,” said Limestone senior Hunter Thornton. “Coming out here the day after and playing a baseball game was surreal. We had a blast!”
Limestone won the day after that practice. The won the next game and the next won.
The Rockets won four straight before an extra inning loss on Monday at Morton snapped the win streak. Limestone’s team slogan this year is “Mindset Matters.”
So does having fun.
“It’s the most memorable day of our season,” Caruso said of the practice. “Unless we make some splash at the end of the year.”
No pun intended.