Baseball Preview: LCU ready to make statement this season
PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - Baseball season is quickly approaching, and it is almost time to buy those peanuts and crackerjacks because Louisiana Christian University baseball will be putting on their gloves and walking up to the plate in just a few days.
The Wildcats’ season ended last year with a heartbreaking one-run loss in the Red River Athletic Conference semifinal game against the University of Houston-Victoria, but they are putting that loss behind them.
“Expect us to give you hard work all the time,” said Wildcats third baseman Ju’Juan Franklin. “We will always come out and dominate from pitch one to the last stop. We are always going to be on your tail. As long as we do that, we are going to have a fight in any game.”
It is a new year and a new season, but the Wildcats are returning most of their starters, including Ju’Juan Franklin, Cortlynn Ramirez and Peyton Lamartiniere. One name to keep an eye out for coming out of the bullpen is Colten Newsom. LCU does have a few positions to fill due to seniors graduating, such as Keelyn Johnson, who was a huge asset in the Wildcats lineup.
“We are still looking for the right pieces to the puzzle, but once we get to conference, the puzzle is going to be ready,” said Wildcats Head Coach Mike Byrnes. “This group, they are different. They got a chance. We will just wait and see if we can stay healthy, play good defense, get good at-bats and get solid pitching. There is no telling how good this team can be.”
Many of the players have said the entire team has bought in and is hungry because the goal is to get to the RRAC championship and bring home a ring.
“When the new guys came in, we told them, if you are not hungry, then go because we didn’t lose a lot of people last year, so the ones who saw what happened last year are twice as hungry,” said Newsom.
The RRAC Preseason Poll was released on Jan. 25, and the Wildcats are ranked No. 4, along with receiving one first-place vote. The first-place vote has become a motivation for the entire team.
“Early polls don’t mean anything,” said Byrnes. “They just give you something to work for. The most important one is at the end of the season, so we are just going to try to be the best and do the best every day, every game and go from there. If we do what we are supposed to do, good things are going to happen to this baseball team.”
“The motivation is definitely the poll, and being so close last year and going to the championship and seeing what could have been,” said Newsom. “I really do not want that to happen again.”
LCU’s season opener and home opener will be Friday, Jan. 27, against Dillard University at Billy Allgood Field at 2 p.m.
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