Reds closing season strong
The Lansing Reds took their share of lumps for most of the season as they won just one of their first 22 games.
Since then, however, they've been a different team that's looking to close out the summer with a bang. They played .500 baseball during the past two weeks as they split two doubleheaders with Tonganoxie Team Two and Geiger Ready-Mix.
Now, they're planning on riding that momentum into the double-elimination Leavenworth Baseball League Tournament. The Reds were scheduled to play the Easton Outlaws on Wednesday night at Sportsfield and will face either the Leavenworth Knights or Geiger at 6 p.m. or 8 p.m. today.
"I think that they're ready," Reds manager Michael Smith said of his squad. "They know this is their last chance this year to show this league what they're made of. If we come out mentally ready then I think we'll do well."
Smith said he's pleased that his players have picked up three wins during the last two weeks, but he said he thought they could have won all six of those games had they been a little more focused.
"They need to keep their intensity the whole time," he said. "I've noticed that once we get a couple of runs they're great. They're yelling, they're screaming and everyone's into it and getting dirty. But when they get one or two runs behind, everyone hangs their heads. They're still a little complacent sometimes, but it's something they have to work on."
Smith said his squad's recent hot streak was the result of the hard work and commitment his players put in all summer, and he said they were starting to prove that they can play with the older teams in the league.
"They've shown me in these last three series that when they want to play, they can," Smith said. "I think the enthusiasm is something that you learn from experience, and hopefully when you win a little more then you have a little more confidence."
Smith said that after a season of learning, he expected the Reds (4-24) would be a force in the Leavenworth Baseball League next summer.
"With the improvement they've made this year, if they stick with it - and most of them will hopefully play some high school ball - the reaction I've gotten just talking about next year has been very positive," Smith said. "We get along as a team, which is the idea in the first place, and we've gotten accustomed to playing with each other, so it can only get better. I anticipate a good team next year."