XENIA — Xenia’s new head baseball coach Brandon Salyers is a positive chatterbox.
Coaching third base with his team at the plate, he has something to offer his hitters after every pitch. Situational awareness, encouragement, evaluations, you name it.
And he does it all with a smile.
“Just love the interaction with the players,” Salyers said. “Love coaching high school kids, right?”
Salyers is taking over the baseball Bucs this season in place of longtime coach Barry Claus, who won more than 100 games for the Bucs.
The two have known one another for 20 years, Salyers said, and he is taking several interactions the two have had to heart in what he hopes to bring to the Xenia program.
“The season is what Barry always told me: It’s a marathon. It’s a marathon at a sprinter space,” Salyers said. “It’s also a short season in six weeks. You know, it’s nice to get a win early on in the season, but ultimately we want to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season going into the tournament.”
Brandon said he has been using Claus as a sounding board as he continues to get in the flow of being in charge.
The two have spoken often throughout tryouts and into the start of the season, which is getting off on the right foot with a two-game sweep of MVL foe West Carrollton.
“He’s had a lot of good advice,” Salyers said of Claus. “I’ll be the first to admit that’s why I’ve got a lot of guys that I trust with me in the dugout as I don’t know everything. So that I lean on other people. I don’t try to to reinvent the wheel. You take what works, and then you make it your own. And you hopefully have success with it.”
Part of the hopeful success is expected to come from a close family member.
Brandon’s son Zach is a junior on this year’s team. He enters the 2022 campaign with the team’s highest returning batting average at .314, driving in nine runs in addition last season. Batting in the third spot in the season opener on Tuesday at home, Zach went 1-for-4 as the starting second baseman.
Brandon said the two of them are already enjoying being on the same team and while Zach may be more focused on his current performance, he believes there will be a later appreciation for the time spent together.
“With Zach, being able to coach your kid at the varsity level is special,” he said. “So that’s something that hopefully one day he’ll be able to look back and enjoy the time as much as I do now. It’s hard sometimes. It’s hard for the kid to realize that, you know, because the dad is the coach, right? But I think years from now he’ll look back and appreciate it.”
Xenia went 7-21 last season but returns a core group that has already shown resiliency in its first two games. The Bucs have come back to win both games with multi-run, late inning rallies. Its pitching has made it difficult for the opposition to produce its own runs having only allowed eight hits while throwing 24 strikeouts in 14 innings.
The season being a short marathon as Salyers described, an early identity being formed should be a positive development as it looks to claim its first league title since 2018.
Salyers hopes it doesn’t go by too quickly so the teachable moments for the players are absorbed and he can enjoy his initial campaign on the bench.
”Giving life lesson type stuff, baseball emulates life,” he said. “That’s been I guess my biggest joy so far is getting to know some of these players. I’ve known a lot of them since T-ball, but just having camaraderie with the kids and building that relationships.”
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.