A few days into practice, Houston baseball coach Brent Hall realized he wasn’t sure where to play many of his players. So he did a first for his 14-year career.

“I put the whole team in the outfield and hit them flies,” Hall said, “then put the whole team in the infield and hit them grounders.”

This year’s team will be a game of dominoes for Hall. Literally. Moving one player to a position will effect several others.

For Hall, it’s a matter of determining where the pieces fall into place.

The Tigers have a nucleus of four returning starters: Lucas Cooperman, Kaleb Poynter, Eli Smith and Nathan McCarthy. But even they may be playing different positions this season.

“It’s safe to say that our catcher will be the same,” Hall said of McCarthy. “From there, it just kind of depends on who is pitching.”

Eight of the Tigers’ 18 players are freshmen. Hall said it’s the biggest first-year group he has had during his tenure. He said two or three of them could start this season.

Devin Coulter and Aaron Cantrell, who both started on the varsity basketball team, could do the same in baseball.

“The freshman class is a really good class,” Hall said. “It’s probably one of the better freshman classes we’ve had — definitely by numbers.”

Hall said his biggest question marks are third baseball and the outfield. Smith, who played third last year, will likely move to shortstop.

The team’s shuffle could begin up the middle. Smith will pitch and play short. Poynter will also pitch and could play short or second base. Coulter could be in the mix at shortstop as well.

“Just trying to find the right mix of people is the main thing,” Hall said. “That’s one of the things I’m not real sure about yet.”

Hall said he hopes to have a better feel for his team after Saturday’s 50-inning game. Or he may be shuffling players at different positions throughout the season.

“I’ve never been in a situation like this,” Hall said. “We’ve got the talent to be very successful. It’s just that I’ve got to put them in the right spots. It may be trial and error as we start the season. We may have the right bunch out there to start the season or we may have to mix and match as we go.

“We’ll try to put the puzzle together before districts.”

3/21 SCA Tournament

3/29 at Rolla

4/1 St. James

4/4 at Willow Springs

4/7 at Salem

4/9 Houston JV Tourn.

4/11 Mtn. Grove

4/14 Thayer

4/15 Hartville Tourn.

4/18 Liberty

4/21 Cabool

4/25 at Ava

4/28 Licking

4/30 West Plains Tourn.

5/2 at Hartville

5/6 Plato

5/7 Rolla JV Tourn.

5/10 at Mansfield

5/12 Seymour

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