The Suburbanite
  • Experience, drive keys to LCCS baseball season

  • A veteran team with a freshman coach will look to help the Lake Center Christian baseball team take the next step in its development.

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  • A veteran team with a freshman coach will look to help the Lake Center Christian baseball team take the next step in its development.
    The Tigers, with an experienced core back from last year’s 7-15 team, will have a first-time manager in Shane Byler as they embark upon the 2013 campaign. Byler, taking the reins from Tim Hefty — who will serve in a support role during the transition — will lean heavily on the squad’s four seniors for leadership.
    Those four seniors will all see time on the mound and in the infield.
    “We have a lot of quality players coming back to this year’s team,” Byler said. “With experience at catcher and the middle infield positions, I think we will be tough defensively. We have very capable hitters 1-9 in the lineup. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”
    Senior left-hander Scott Hefty will be the Tigers’ No. 1 starter and when he isn’t pitching, he will either catch or play first base. Hefty, with a .277 batting average last season, also will be a mid-lineup hitter.
    Fellow seniors Alex Armstrong, Dan Raines and Nate Raymondi will all take turns on the mound for the Tigers and will play third base, shortstop and second base, respectively, when in the field.
    “We have a very deep pitching staff, with a lot of experience in the starting rotation,” Byler added. “It’s going to come down to whether or not we can consistently throw strikes. If we’re steady on the mound and force teams to swing the bat, I feel confident that our defense will make plays.”
    Behind the seniors, a trio of returning underclassmen with a wealth of varsity experience will help to provide a steadying presence at the plate and in the field.
    Junior Jon Wittmer was a versatile asset for LCCS last season, playing first base and catching, while also coming out of the bullpen in a limited role. Fellow junior Derek Chambers also will see his role expand at first base and designated hitter, while promising sophomore outfielder Michael Swartzentruber (.356 avg., 1 HR, 12 RBI) will look to build on a stellar freshman campaign and anchor the Tigers’ outfield defense.
    However, a 12-2 loss to Windham in their first tournament game last season left the Tigers with a bad taste in their mouths and an infusion of youth should be helpful in giving LCCS a boost as it seeks to get off to a fast start.
    Sophomore Wyatt Kyser and freshmen A.J. Kyser, Nate Starcher, Andrew Armstrong, Isaiah Raines and Josh Ickes will be counted on to provide bench depth and keep the starters fresh in a backup role. Byler plans to implement an aggressive style of play that will force the action on the base paths while being fundamentally sound in the field.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have a steady group of players who are learning how to play hard and get the job done,” Byler said. “Aggressive base running, solid defense and timely hitting will be the keys to our success.”
    As a first-year head coach, Byler also understands that there will be an adjustment process. He hopes that the transition is a smooth one and says the ultimate goal is for the team to hit its stride by mid-season and be playing its best baseball in the final weeks.
    “Our goal is to improve on a daily basis,” Byler said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment, but we want to be prepared and ready to roll by the mid-point of the season. We have a group of seniors that deserve to go out on their careers the right way. As coaches, we want to give them every opportunity to do so.”

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