Everest in site?
Basehor-Linwood baseball program hoping experience, talent lead the Bobcats back to the top of the Kaw Valley League mountain
With spring in the air, the BLHS baseball team is headed back into action. The Bobcats look to improve upon last year's 8-13 record with the insurgence of new head coach David Svoboda, who has assisted for the past two years. Although only half of this year's varsity team saw significant playing time last season, Svoboda still feels his team can be successful.
The Bobcats will lean heavily on this season's seniors, including first team all-league catcher Kyle Speichinger and Josh Ishmael, first team all-league third baseman. Lucas Williamson returns as a three-year starter in the infield, and Michael Armstrong will play second base.
"I'd really like to see the four seniors continue to help our young guys grow and mature as players and people," Svoboda said. "Kyle, Josh, Michael and Lucas all have plenty that they are each giving back to our freshman through juniors, and I want to see that continue."
Other returning starters will include junior Alex Smith, whose primary role last season was as the designated hitter, but he will see time in right field, at catcher and on the mound this season. Junior Brett Miles is the Bobcats' only returning pitcher with any significant mound time and will also play center field.
Junior Cody McCoy will be playing first this season for the Bobcats but only saw time at third base last season, when Ishmael pitched.
Juniors Matt Fanning, Zach Lowe and Garret Chumley will all be competing with Miles and Smith for time in the outfield.
The Bobcats starting rotation is somewhat susceptible to criticism.
The team lost its ace, after Ishmael battled a tender rotator cuff at the end of last season and subsequently nicked up the same shoulder playing football. Ishmael has all ready signed a football letter-of-intent, and all parties involved agreed it was not worth it for him to pitch and risk jeopardizing his future.
"He gave it a great try in preseason workouts on his own," Svoboda said. "His ability to battle will be greatly missed, but he will bring that to our other pitchers by being less than 60 feet away at third base."
Despite losing Ishmael, the Bobcats have a lot of arms at their disposal. Miles will lead the rotation, with Fanning, McCoy, Chumley, Smith and junior Robert Lewis filling out the Bobcats untested staff. If needed Armstrong and Williamson can fill in and get the ball over the plate.
The Bobcats' strength comes in its line up, and Svoboda is boasting a pretty solid one through six, with the combination of power and speed.
Williamson and Miles will give the Bobcats a good one-two combination, as both have speed and the ability to handle the bat. A "prototype" three hole hitter, Ishmael gets on base a lot with runners in scoring position and regularly finds the gaps for extra base hits. Speichinger finds himself in the cleanup spot with his ability to drive in runs, and he is a huge asset on the base path as the Bobcats' returning leader in steals. Smith and Armstrong have the ability to clear whatever Speichinger couldn't off the bases, and the bottom third of the Bobcats lineup has the chance to be as good as any around.
"Our bottom third has the chance to be as good as any I've had in several years," Svoboda said. "They combine speed, power and the ability to play 'small ball' if they need to."
The Bobcats have been forced inside for a good amount of time thus far but have been taking advantage of their premier facilities. Despite not seeing much sunlight, the Bobcats will begin their season, weather permitting, this Saturday, March 26, at Bishop Ward. The junior varsity team begins at 11 a.m., and the varsity at 1 p.m