First-year coach Marcus Minor turns around Baker baseball program

The Baker baseball team has surprised a lot of folks this year.

Coming off a 2-22 season in 2012 that included nearly 20 shutout losses, the Buffaloes didn’t have high expectations for many — except their new coach.

“From Day One, I expected them to give me their best,” Marcus Minor said. “I didn’t set low expectations, and they responded to that.”

The Buffaloes answered Minor’s challenge by churning out a 16-6 record — the first winning season in nearly a decade and an accomplishment not even Minor can say he saw coming.

“I saw the potential in them, but going 16-6? No, I didn’t really have any idea they would do that good,” he said. “My kids work hard at practice, and that translates to the game.”

Although Baker finished third in brutal District 6-3A, which features top teams like Parkview Baptist and West Feliciana, the Buffaloes managed to hold their own with a 3-3 record, earning their first win against West Feliciana.

Minor’s arrival seemingly has changed the mentality of a program that had lost confidence in recent years.

“I think it’s my attitude toward them with the discipline that I put forth,” he said. “But I’ve really just got a great group of kids. They’re willing to work hard, they listened and they are very coachable. They’re tired of the losing attitude that people perceive Baker as. They were willing to listen and become winners.”

The Buffaloes largely have ridden the success of their top three pitchers: Lester Scott, Jamaun Banks and Latrell Fisher.

Minor said the left-handers, who also contribute in the outfield, have developed into standouts. The pitching staff has held opponents to four runs or fewer in seven contests; Minor said that has been key to the turnaround.

“The biggest improvement I believe has been my pitching,” he said. “The pitchers really have come along throughout the season, and they’re doing great. All three of them are great kids, and they bring something special to the table for me.”

As Baker gets set to enter the Class 3A playoffs as a fairly low seed, the Buffaloes are hoping the surprises aren’t over yet. They await their first-round opponent, which will be announced Tuesday, but regardless of whose name pops up, the Buffaloes have a goal in mind.

“We’re going to play our hardest and give it our all,” Minor said. “I believe that we’ll able to win a couple games in the playoffs and surprise some people. Hopefully ... we can carry over our success and try to win our first playoff game.”