Baseball season begins today
Watch just a few minutes of a Lansing High baseball practice led by Troy Andrews and it becomes quite clear the first-year coach likes to keep the atmosphere upbeat.
There's constant energy, constant chatter and constant activity. That's how championship-caliber teams prepare, Andrews said. And he should know. He learned from the best when he served as an assistant coach on a state championship team at Class 6A powerhouse Dodge City.
"I'm one of those coaches that I hate people standing around," Andrews said. "When we're out here we're taking cuts, taking ground balls. When we're taking ground balls in the infield, I try to get two coaches involved so we can get (more repetitions). Sometimes it looks a little wild, but we can get twice as many ground balls that way.
"It's something I learned from the head coach in Dodge City. One of the things he stressed in his practices was that nobody's standing around. If I look over in practice and I've got people standing around, then I need to revamp my practice schedule because something's not right."
Andrews wants everything to be perfect this year. He knows there's pressure on him to perform during his first season at the helm, but there's greater pressure because of the talent pool he has to work with. LHS returns arguably the deepest pitching staff in the Kaw Valley League with seniors Chris Wagner, Cody Mohan, Mike Amaral and Jeff Terrill. Meanwhile, senior left fielder Mike Bayless has one of the most consistent bats in the conference.
Lansing fell one game short of advancing to the Class 5A state tournament last year, and this year's goal is simple: advance to state.
The primary question mark for Lansing is how well the offense will produce. Bayless, Mohan, Wagner, Terrill and sophomore Johnny Stratton are the top returning hitters, so Andrews has some holes to fill.
Andrews said junior Kyle Miller, a new student who transferred to Lansing from California over the summer, has shown plenty of pop at the plate, too. Miller's bat and steady glove might earn him some playing time at third base, Andrews said. Other than that, spots appear to be wide open.
"I think the pitching's going to be there. I want to see us score runs," Andrews said. "I've been going through the lineup. I want to get my top nine hitters, whoever they are, and I want to get those nine on the field."
Andrews will take his first crack at assembling a lineup at 4 p.m. today when LHS opens its season at home with two games against Atchison. The Lions swept the Redmen by a combined score of 35-1 in a doubleheader last year. Wagner will start on the mound in game one. Andrews said he was uncertain who would start in the nightcap.
"We'll see how the first game goes," Andrews said. "What I would like to do on Thursday if all goes well is I'd like to throw our top four guys."
Heavy rainfall is in the forecast for today, so Andrews said he was concerned that the games could be canceled. If so, he said he didn't know when - or if - the games would be rescheduled. Regardless, he said his squad would be ready to play.
"The guys are ready to go. They're dying to play," Andrews said. "I just hope the weather cooperates."
INJURY SIDELINES HALL
For the most part, the Lions have remained healthy during the first few weeks of practice. The lone exception is freshman Hawkins Hall, who broke his collarbone on a ski trip during spring break. He will miss the entire season.
"He was looking to start at third base for our JV," Andrews said. "That's a tough break for him."