Slew of seniors strive for tournament berth

By Daniel Kats
Published: March 2010

With the bitter ending of last season still raw in the minds of eight of this year’s nine starters, the 2010 Varsity Baseball team expects that its experience will help extend its season deep into the postseason.

With just six outs left from qualifying for last year’s state tournament, the team blew a four-run lead. “The entire program and I were very disappointed, Baseball coach Ronald Jordan said.

The team is poised to make a serious fight for the state championship. With five pitchers on the staff having varsity experience, and a lineup almost completely composed of returning players, the 2010 squad is the most talented in recent years. According to Jordan, the depth positions his team as the strongest he has coached in his tenure. “This team will have fierce competition for playing time up and down the lineup, he said.

The team’s experience offers more benefits than just talent. “I think that playing with a number of returning players is a huge advantage for our team, senior Sam Forman said. “Instead of taking the first few weeks to familiarize ourselves with each other, we can start improving right away from where we were last year.

Senior Scott Lueders and junior Alex Foner want to emphasize that it takes a belief in their coach, as well as talent, to win.

“If kids aren’t following [coach Ron Jordan's methods], I’ll say something to them and make sure that they buy into it, because that’s the only way we can be successful, Foner said. “There’s no other way to make the tournament or win games.

Mental preparation, focus, and toughness have been a major problem in the past, but the veterans on the team know that these impediments will not lead to success.

“We just sort of complained but this year we’re leaving that all in the past and we’re going to go out there and do our thing, control what we can control, and work hard, Lueders said. “Now we’re ready to actually do something.

The Lions don’t have very many problems besides the mental aspect of the game. Depth in the lineup, with sluggers Forman, Lueders, and senior Tevin Osbourne, coupled with a pitching staff headed by senior Sam Hyun’s strong arm, are the foundation of the Baseball team’s success.

“We’re getting a great top of the lineup with Tevin Osbourne back this year, which is huge because he can hit and run with the best of them, Lueders said. “We had a few players do well, like Willie Allen at the plate, Sam Forman pitching, and Alex Foner stepping up at second base, but we need the other six starters to put it together this year.

Allen, Forman, and Lueders were all Dual County League (DCL) All-Stars last season and should provide a boost to the team.

According to Jordan, Allen was ranked among the top hitters in the DCL and Lueders was considered one of the top defensive catchers a year ago.

The coaching staff has not settled for just raw talent, and hopes to perfect its team’s skills. Additions to daily practice regimens will keep South’s players in good physical condition.

The coaches are focused on improving throughout the season so that the team can play its best baseball going into the playoffs. The staff divided the season into quarters, and at the end of each division, the team will use a newly developed grading system to evaluate its progress.

During Jordan’s three-year tenure as head coach, the Baseball program’s pitchers have struggled with accuracy. The amount of walks that the team has surrendered has decreased each season. Last year, the team allowed 92 walks, roughly 40-percent of which came from graduated players.

“I do expect the number [of walks] to drop sharply, Jordan said. Hyun has a history for surrendering walks, but has worked hard over the offseason to refine his mechanics.

According to both Jordan and Forman, the team’s defense has been consistently good and should not be a problem.

However, there are some new players that may affect the flow of the defense. The departure of two starting outfielders leaves a void that two players inexperienced at the position must fill. To ease the transition, Jordan selected athletic players to switch their positions.

The high-powered South offense will be complimented by speed on the basepaths. Senior Chris Lewis and classmate Willie Allen are two of the most skilled baserunners. Last season, the Baseball team procured a staggering 40 steals in 45 attempts.

In 2009, injuries and other issues sidelined key players, which played as a significant detriment to the team. The Lions have learned through experience that they will be faced with adversity, and will need to overcome it in order to reach their ultimate goal.

“We need to be able to overcome anything thrown our way, Lueders said.

The consensus around South is that the Varsity Baseball team will advance to the playoffs. The question that remains is whether the squad has what it takes to hoist a State Championship banner onto the Field House wall.

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