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Hall lays down ground rules, rescues the sinking Pirates

In his first year, Brent Hall revamps a team that was 7-21 the previous season.

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001


CRYSTAL RIVER -- In the first team meeting he conducted at Crystal River, new coach Brent Hall made it clear to players what he expected from each of them.

"The main thing I wanted to emphasize was that we were going to be disciplined, we were gong to work hard to achieve our goals and we were going to put time in the classroom and weight room," Hall said.

Apparently, everybody listened.

One year after going 7-21, the Pirates won the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference title, were the Class 3A, District-6 runners-up, reached the state playoffs for the first time in five seasons and finished with an area-best record of 25-6.

"I knew they had talent," Hall said. "But they didn't know a lot about the fundamentals. They didn't know a lot of things that great baseball teams know, and teaching them was fun."

Hall's emphasis in Year 1 was on fundamentals, but he used practice time to put players in game-type situations so they wouldn't freeze during actual games.

"That was pretty much all we did," said pitcher/outfielder Clayton Trenary.

Hall said a 7-5 win against area power Dunnellon in Crystal River's fourth game was the turning point because it proved to his players they could beat quality teams -- something the Pirates failed to do the previous season.

"I think the best moment of the season was when we were able to step up and beat Dunnellon" Hall said. "That set us on our course."

During the regular season, Crystal River went 8-0 against district opponents and 11-1 in the GCAC. Its lone conference loss came in February to Hernando. In April, the Pirates avenged that defeat with a 17-0 victory.

En route to a 24-4 regular-season mark, they beat Central, Citrus, Dunnellon, Lecanto and Springstead twice each. "It was truly one of my most enjoyable years," Hall said.

The ending, which included losses to Dunnellon in the 3A-6 final and Alachua Santa Fe in the first round of the state playoffs, was sour, but Hall thinks the program is headed for bigger and better things. Next season, the Pirates will return 25 of their 29 players from 2001.

"This was just the first step," Hall said. "Our goal next year is to get to the state playoffs and win. With a better club next year, I believe we'll be able to take a great step toward to becoming state champions. That's our goal."

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