Two games into the 2001 season LHS already has lost twice. The Lions, ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, were swept on Tuesday by Olathe South.
LHS (0-2) will try to regroup at 2 p.m. today with a single game against crosstown Free State (0-2) at the Firebirds' field.
"I think it's a big game for us because we're coming off two losses," LHS coach David Petry said. "We need to get back on the field to see if we get things turned around. This team needs to establish its own identity. We think we're a good baseball team and we need more experience under our belt."
The Lions and Firebirds will meet again in May. Petry thinks the later date will be a better indicator of how good the two teams are.
"Playing this game early in the season is not really a true representation of either team," Petry said. "When we play again, we'll be two different teams late in season."
Petry said practices have been lively since Tuesday's losses.
"They came back with a real positive attitude," Petry said. "We had some kids who took on some leadership roles. I've been happy with what I've seen."
LHS senior Brandon Bingham is scheduled to start on the mound today. Bingham, a New Mexico signee, has been bothered by a sore back.
"He's making improvement," Petry said of Bingham, who played third base in Tuesday's opener. "If he's healthy, he can pitch."
Senior Josh Swenson is likely to start on the mound for Free State.
The Firebirds lost to Olathe North, 19-0, on Tuesday and to Blue Valley North, 9-7, on Thursday.
"It should be fun," FSHS coach Mike Hill said of today's game. "That's what rivalries are all about."
Hill is well aware of the Lions' success last season and thinks LHS will be in the hunt again in the Sunflower League.
"David does a great job," Hill said. "I can't say enough about the job he's done in a little over a year. They're the defending state champions. With that comes a little bit of pride and a sureness about yourself and the way you play the game.
"I know they're a little concerned about their experience, but when you have four starters returning from a state championship team, there's a lot to be said for that. I know things didn't start the way they wanted to, but I guarantee they'll be right in the middle of it."
Free State senior center fielder Jake Coffman is eager for today's game.
"It's always fun to play those guys," he said. "It's always a dogfight. Everybody is going to go all out. I can't wait to play. I'm sure everybody else is too."
Free State leads the intracity series, 3-2. The Lions swept Free State last spring for their first wins over the Firebirds.
LHS and Free State are meet again for a single game on May 7 at Kansas University's Hoglund Ballpark.
-- Sports writer Steve Rottinghaus can be reached at 832-7152.