Baseball season ended for Carlisle last week in the quarterfinals of the 3-2A District Tournament as the Bison came within one win of qualifying for the Class 2A East Regional.
Phil Bernhardt’s first Bison squad closed 11-13. Last year, Carlisle was 8-15.
“It’s definitely an improvement,” said Bernhardt, who had been scheduled as assistant coach before finding out in mid-February he would be at the helm of the program. “It’s always nice to get double-digit wins, and most certainly always nice to come in close to .500.
“We’d like for that (record) to be the other way around, but we’ve got some things we can build on.”
The fifth-seeded Bison rolled over Brinkley last week in the first round at McCrory, 18-3 in five innings; but fell to Des Arc in the quarterfinals, 11-1.
Against Brinkley, the Bison led after one inning, 3-1; and settled things with a 13-run second.
“I think we came out with a chip on our shoulder,” Bernhardt said. “We put on a good show, and we were able to hit the ball like we knew we could. It most certainly showed on the scoreboard.”
Junior Houston Garrich hit a home run against the Tigers.
Against Des Arc, the Bison yielded single runs in the first and second innings and fell behind 6-1 after three innings.
“That was a rough one,” Bernhardt said. “We came out flat-footed. I think part of that was the day break in between games. We thought we were going to be able to make a comeback late, or at least lessen the margin, because we were able to put guys on base and get them in scoring position. But we couldn’t get them in.”
The Bison will graduate seniors Zach Caviness and Tyler Sanders.
“Both of them were fantastic leaders for us all season,” Bernhardt said. “We are certainly going to miss their leadership moving forward. Tyler did a great job in his second year playing catcher. I only wish we could’ve had him for another year.
“I can’t say enough good about Zach. Coming into the season, we knew we could count on him for pitching through spots, and whether we called his number or not, he was ready to get on the field.”
Bernhardt, an assistant football coach for the Bison, said he learned much during his first season with baseball — indeed, his first with a second sport.
“You’ve got to have that time before the season starts, or otherwise you’re already starting from behind,” he said. “Once the season got going, there wasn’t going to be a whole lot of time for us to make adjustments and fix a lot of things.
“I definitely learned that if I’m in that spot again next year, we are starting a whole lot earlier and getting as much practice time in as we’re allowed.”