Erik McDougald is probably more tickled than his baseball squad to get to Pensacola for the Bulldogs’ pair of games this weekend.
The Thomasville head coach has this weekend circled on his calendar every year.
“It’s just a real good experience for everybody,” McDougald said. “I love the challenge it presents our guys – mentally, physically and in another number of areas. ”
This is the second year that McDougald has crossed the Florida border with his Bulldogs. He has strived to take a lengthy road trip once per year to accustom the team with travel, but the destination has changed at times; from Helen, Ga. to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to Panama City, Fla. among other towns.
The idea of Pensacola generated from assistant coach Ron O’Quinn, who grew up in Milton along the Florida panhandle. O’Quinn approached McDougald two years ago and broached a shift in the annual road trip.
“I thought it was a great idea,” McDougald said. “Sometimes we forget in South Georgia how much baseball talent there is out there. Then you go down to places like Pensacola, which is rich in baseball tradition and talent. It’s great for our guys to see that.
“I firmly believe is makes us a better baseball team in the long run otherwise I wouldn’t do it.”
Thomasville played Tate High School in last year’s trip.
McDougald recalled an inspirational moment when the team arrived at the ballpark and saw big league bound Chase Boyd taking batting practice with the team.
“He was launching missile after missile,” McDougald said of the former Florida State star.
On the other side of the field were two 4x8 boards with names penned of Tate graduates drafted to MLB.
“You didn’t make it on there by just going to college,” McDougald said.