Archive for Thursday, April 1, 2004

Junior poised to lead team

April 1, 2004

If Lucas Williamson looks a little disoriented during the first few innings of today's season opener, just give him a little time. He's going through a lot of changes this year.

Williamson is the sole starter remaining from last year's BLHS baseball team, which went to the regional championship. He's getting used to throwing the ball to set of new teammates this year, and he's getting used to doing it from a new position.

Williamson played second last year, but his coach, Dave Svoboda, has shifted him to shortstop, where his slick glove and aggressive style will get even more use. Williamson's advantage in experience has also thrust him into a leadership role even though he's only a junior. There are a number of seniors on the team who simply haven't played as many varsity innings as Williamson.

"It's kind of weird," Williamson said. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do, stay out of their way or try to help them. I've never been in a position like this before."

Last year Williamson's role was quite different. He was the youngster on a roster full of seasoned veterans, a scrappy middle infielder who played solid defense and hit well out of some of the batting order's lower slots.

Now he's suddenly expected to spark the team's offense out of one of the top two slots and flash enough glove at shortstop to key the Basehor defense, which figures to be essential to the young team's success. Svoboda said he knew the change was a drastic one for Williamson and that he was proud of how he had stepped up and accepted the challenge as a junior.

"It's a position he's embraced and he's done a nice job of handling," Svoboda said. "I'm real pleased with him so far, and I'm sure it will be no different once the games start."

Talent-wise, Svoboda said Williamson had the skills and know-how to excel as the team's go-to player. In fact, he had nothing but praise for the junior both as a middle infielder and as a contact hitter.

"He's one guy you don't really have to correct on technique," Svoboda said. "He'll aggressively charge every ground ball, and he really goes up to the plate with a plan."

Williamson said he hit around .333 last year, but that he'd have to do even better than that if the Bobcats were going to score enough runs to win.

"I've got to hit this year, because we don't have many hitters," Williamson said. "We've got good defense but everyone needs to work on hitting."

Svoboda said there were many things he hoped the other players would pick up from watching Williamson, especially his fearlessness at the plate, his competitive nature and his love for the game. He said he was glad to have a key player like Williamson playing in the middle infield.

"We're going to be as strong as our defense up the middle allows us to be," Svoboda said. "We've got talented players at all the middle positions but Lucas is kind of the glue because he's the one that's been there."

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