Lakeview Seniors to lean on experience
The Bank of the Valley Lakeview Senior American Legion baseball team brings back a strong core from last year and hopes that this senior experience will give them a leg up on the competition.
Last summer, the Lakeview seniors finished the season 6-17 due in large part to several injuries. From players dealing with broken bones to torn hamstrings and elbow injuries, it was difficult for the squad to get in a groove.
Head coach Brach Johnson said this year the team is healthy and he is optimistic about the season.
“We’re excited about the season,” he said. “We’re going have 12 or 13 kids out. Of those, most of them have a lot of baseball experience. From last year coming back, I think nine of them played for me last year as juniors or seniors. That’s a lot of experience coming back.”
Johnson said he believes that Lakeview will improve in all facets of the game. On the mound, there are more arms available at the front end of the rotation and in the middle innings - something the team struggled with late in games in 2018.
“I think our pitching is going to be better,” he said. “We’re going to have better relief and middle relief. We have an extra starting pitcher. I think we have about 11 games we lost last year that we lost by one or two runs. A lot of that was that we couldn’t close out a game with a lead with a closer, so we lost leads and just couldn’t hold them.
“From that standpoint, the pitching is going to be better. We should be better defensively and we should be able to generate some more runs.”
At the plate, he said “everything should be better offensively for us.”
Finishing 11 games under .500 last year was a major result of an ineffective offense as much as it was struggles on the mound. Johnson said he believes some of the issues have been resolved and that his team should be able to score more consistently.
“I think we have a lot to look forward to,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s son, Jaden Johnson looks to be one of the top pitchers for the team. Jaden tossed over 40 innings last year.
Cody Schaad is another pitcher that Johnson pointed to as one of the key players. Schaad pitched last year but was dealing with an elbow injury most of the season.
Ian Gibbs, Evan Tessendorf and Seth Bloomquist are the other pitchers Johnson said he expects to have an impact.
On the offensive side, Jaden Johnson and Caden Pelan are expected to be two of the top offensive threats.
“Jaden is a well-rounded baseball player. He led us in most offensive categories last year,” Brach said.
“Another addition we got this year is Caden Pelan. He’s an addition to our team this year with some high school baseball experience, so we’re looking for a lot from Caden offensively. So, those two would be our primary offensive players I would say. Cameron Drozd also.”
When Lakeview is in the batters box, the Seniors will look to make contact at a consistent rate according to Brach Johnson.
“I would say we’re going to hit more for average than be power hitters,” he said. “We do have some better power hitters this year than we did last year. We’re able to play small ball because we’ve got a lot of options there to play small ball where we’re going to be able to bunt, hit and run to put the ball in play.
“We’re looking to score runs with just good contact at the plate, high batting averages, solid base running, manufacture runs are the plate.”
Lakeview was scheduled to open up its season on Thursday on the road at Schuyler, but the game was called off in the top of the first inning due to lightning.
The next game on the schedule is a road game in Arlington at 8 p.m. on Wednesday.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org