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Tough schedule challenges Indians ahead of district grind

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches-Groves baseball team started out the season going 0-5 in a La Porte tournament, but head coach Scott Carter isn’t panicking.

“We are playing really well,” he said. “We are just playing some quality opponents. We’ve got some things to improve on. We have to improve our pitching and improve our hitting. There are a lot of kids that have not touched a baseball or not done a whole lot since COVID shut us down last year. Everyone is running a little bit behind, and we are just trying to get caught up.”

PNG played four 6A schools over the weekend and one 5A school.

“I think it is very important for our experience level to play quality opponents,” Carter said. “It gives us an opportunity to improve. Our district is really strong. We have Crosby, Barbers Hill, Galena Park, Nederland and all of those teams are quality teams that we need to make sure we prepare for.”

Pitcher Luke Nguyen throws during practice at the Port Neches-Groves baseball field Tuesday. Chris Moore/The News

Carter said his team is trying to shake the rust after the long layoff.

“That is affecting a lot of people right now,” he said. “We’re still ready to go. We are playing good baseball. We’ve been in every game. We just haven’t been able to pull one out yet.”

The coach said he is happy to have his seniors back to help bring up a young team.

“We have Dean Guidry, who is a senior second baseman,” Carter said. “Ryan Sosa is a senior catcher behind the plate. We’ve got two returning pitchers in Tristan Abshire and Thomas Reinholt. They are both seniors. Blake Bost is going to A&M as a preferred walk-on quarterback. He is in centerfield for us. We have some quality seniors and a really good nucleolus.”

Carter said several underclassmen have stepped up as well.

“Chase Johnson is a freshman, who is doing a good job right now,” he said. “Fisher Einkauf is a freshman, who is playing some for us and doing a good job. We have some sophomores that have really stepped up like Cayce Crippen and Landon Guarnere. They are doing a great job.”

Carter hopes the tournaments help his young team work through it growing pains.

“We play five games in every tournament,” he said. “Right now that is hurting. We do not have a lot of depth in the pitching department. It can hurt us to play five games in three days, but we get some reps and get to see some good baseball.”

PNG’s defense has been the leading force through the young season.

“We have hit the ball decent,” Carter said. “We have 22 hits through five games. We have to do a better job of pitching right now.”

Carter’s main goal for the season is for his team to improve each game.

“Right now we are trying to become a better team, build some chemistry amongst the group and get everyone on the same page,” he said. “The wins will take care of themselves if we take care of the little things.”

PNG opens up district play March 16 against Mid-County Madness rival Nederland.