Nobody was watching it, but a John Wayne western was playing on the TV in the press box office of Bryan Station baseball coach Eddie Brooks last Thursday while he and his staff were trying to figure out how to shake the Defenders out of their funk.
After starting the season 8-2, including a victory over Lexington Catholic, Bryan Station dropped six of its next eight games. Four of the losses were to 42nd District rivals Scott County (twice), Henry Clay and Sayre.
If John Wayne got knocked down in a fight, he always got up, dusted himself off and started swinging again.
That's what Brooks wants his players to do.
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"He preaches that to us all the time. You've gotta let things go and get ready to lace 'em up tomorrow," senior pitcher Landon Lynch said.
"You've gotta learn from losses, then be ready for the next play, the next game."
Senior catcher Jakob Hamilton said bouncing back from a bad day at the ball park "is definitely not easy. It's something you learn from years and years of playing. You might go 0-for-3 with a bunch of strikeouts, but you have to come back the next day with the right mentality."
Despite his team's recent struggles, Brooks is upbeat about the Defenders getting their groove back in time for the postseason, which starts in three weeks.
"There's no reason to push the panic button," he said. "There's a lot of time to fix the little things holding us back."
Bryan Station's string of five consecutive trips to the region ended last year when they finished 13-21.
"We're head-and-shoulders above last year's team," Brooks said. "We've got almost everybody back, and they're a year older, a year bigger, a year smarter and a year stronger."
Bryan Station's everyday returnees include seniors Hamilton (catcher), Keo Taylor (third base), Josh Owsley (shortstop), and juniors Devon Key (center field) and Marcus Johnson (right field).
Senior Evan Roy, and juniors James Bryant and Ke-I Carmichael also saw action in the outfield last season.
Rounding out the infield are seniors Chance Kinkade (first base), Christian Helton and Nathan Feibes (who split time at second base)
Lynch returns as the ace of the staff. Johnson and senior Chase Caldwell (a transfer from West Jessamine) are experienced arms, too. Owsley, Feibes and Clay Combs also see time on the mound.
Taylor said he and his teammates may have slacked off a bit after starting the season strong, but they're intent on remedying that.
"We were more focused early on, but I'm confident we can get things going back in the right direction. Coach says we need a captain, somebody to step up and lead the team."
Who will fill that role?
"Me," Taylor said without hesitation.
Hamilton, in his position behind the plate, knows responsibility falls on him, too.
"As a catcher, I'm in on every play. I've gotta keep the pitcher composed and try to keep everybody else in the game. I've gotta give that leadership."
Bryan Station's formula for success on the field is small ball. The Defenders' offense is all about getting on base and capitalizing on its speed.
"Everybody knows what we do," Brooks said. "We drag bunt, push bunt, squeeze bunt. We had 88 stolen bases in our first 17 games. That's who we are. I'm extremely blessed to have tremendous athletes here."
Taylor's fleet feet lead the team with 24 stolen bases.
Key, who's also a standout football player, missed three weeks with a high ankle sprain, but he's finally back in the lineup and looking like his fast self again.
"Hopefully, we can break out of this mid-season slump," Brooks said.
Hamilton is confident they will.
"We've just gotta put some minor things together and get our energy up," he said. "I'm pretty excited about the last half of the season."