After pitchers and catchers had a week of practice under their belts, it was time for the whole Lakeland baseball team to join in on the action.

On March 18, the baseball team gathered for its first week of practice as an entire team. This week is for finding what team or role everyone has, kind of like tryouts, but that’s not the word coach Mike Wilhelm likes to use.

“I basically just call it practice,” Wilhelm said. “We’re all one program, we practice together all the time anyway, so it’s just practice.”

With snow still on the ground, the team has to practice in the gym. Softball, track and girls soccer also can’t practice outside, so they have to share the fieldhouse and balance out times.

That put the baseball team in the smaller Arbor Vitae-Woodruff Elementary School gym on Thursday, March 21. There is where they put in the time to compete against one another.

“We really want those guys to compete and get better everyday and push each other to get better every day,” Wilhelm said. 

This type of competition pushes everyone to get better and lets coach Wilhelm make the best decisions for his team. 

“We haven’t cut guys in a few years now,” Wilhelm said. “We determine who’s on what team for varsity and JV.”

The practice started with general warm-ups before going into throwing and stretching out their arms. Once that was done it was time for some different hitting and pitching drills they would accomplish.

By the time hitting drills started, there were tennis and waffle balls flying everywhere. Practice had begun. It is hard work like this which makes them optimistic to pick up where they left off last year.

“We’re bringing a lot of those guys back, so it’s nice for them to experience that winning way,” Wilhelm said. “I hope that the seniors this year build on that leadership to bring that winning mentality back.”

The Thunderbirds have the coaches and the players, now it’s time to go out there and win some games.

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.