Archive for Thursday, July 20, 2006

State starts today for Reds

Lansing to play El Dorado in tourney opener

July 20, 2006

Lansing Reds coach Troy Andrews expects his squad to be on the receiving end of a few confused looks when the Reds arrive at the American Legion Class A Baseball State Tournament in El Dorado.

After all, it is highly unlikely any of the other teams would've expected the Reds to be among the eight teams at state. Not after the way they played for much of the regular season. Not after winning just four games prior to the Zone 1 Tournament last week.

Everything changed for the Reds in a matter of days. They rattled off three straight victories to win the Zone Tournament and advanced to state with a 7-23 record.

"You wouldn't think that a team that entered Zone with four wins would have a lot of confidence going into the state tournament, but I think they feel like they deserve to be there," Andrews said.

Lansing opens state tournament play at 6:30 p.m. today against El Dorado in the first round of the double-elimination tournament. Andrews said he knows very little about the opposing club.

One thing he does know is that El Dorado hasn't played in a while. By playing host to the state tournament, it received an automatic berth in the state tournament. Therefore, it did not play in a Zone Tournament.

"I think that helps us a little bit by them having all that time off," Andrews said. "And any time you host a tournament, your kids are doing a lot of work to get ready for that tournament. They might work part of the tournament during the day. Playing and hosting a tournament is a hard thing to do because there are a lot of responsibilities that go with doing that."

The Reds' lone responsibility will be to play good baseball. That is something they did during their three-game winning streak at Zone. With the exception of a two-inning stretch in the championship game, their pitching was reliable. As a team, they had quality at-bats with lots of hits and just a handful of strikeouts.

Among the notable performances were Peter Gibson's 10-for-15 effort at the plate during the tournament and a 5-for-8 effort from Hawkins Hall. Kris Hernandez and Taylor Majure also had hot bats.

As much as Andrews liked what he saw from his players fundamentally, he said he was most pleased with their maturity.

"I think we've turned a big corner as far as team concept, team unity and pulling together as a team," he said. "I think they've finally figured that out. Everybody's in the same boat, so you pull together as a team and you pick each other up. I think we grew up a lot this summer."

Andrews hopes his squad's newfound maturity will translate into a strong showing - and hopefully a few victories - at state.

"I think through the summer they've grown a bunch, figured out some things they need to work on and improve on, and as a team they're playing really good right now," he said. "They're really jelling right now, so hopefully we can carry that over down there."

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