Archive for Thursday, July 31, 2003

Raiders’ goal: Legion state baseball crown

July 31, 2003


The Lawrence Raiders surprised Carl Brooks at Tuesday's American Legion baseball banquet with a highlight video from this, his last season as their skipper.

Yet one memory was missing.

"Yep, I sure hope we've got one more that wasn't on that tape," said Brooks, asked if this was the Raiders' best shot to win a state title. "Like I told my boys, I can't have them go to all that trouble and us not win it."

But Brooks, who has been around baseball as long as he can remember, emphasized he didn't want his players playing for him.

"We're not. We want this thing bad," said Derek Bailey, who has played for three years under Brooks.

"We're not just happy to be going to state again," said Aaron Madill. "I don't mean that in a negative way, because it's awesome to go to state, and most teams would feel lucky just to get to this point.

"But we've been there before. Now we want to win it all."

The Raiders (35-10) begin their quest today in Hays against Salina in a 3 p.m. game at Larks Field.

Brooks said no matter the results, if his team played its best, he would be satisfied.

"If I know they went out there and gave it there all and we came up short again, that's fine," he said. "I'm just asking them to play the game one day at a time at the caliber they have all season."

Both Bailey and Madill said if the Raiders did that, no one else would have a chance.

"We want to bring this thing back in four games," Bailey said.

Brooks' boys may have a point, because lately no one has been able to stop them. The Raiders have rolled off 15 consecutive victories and are playing like the team that scored more than 50 runs in its first five games and won 10 straight to open the season.

In three games last week on their way to the zone II championship, the Raiders plated 41 runs.

"We're really red-hot right now," said Madill (7-0), today's starting pitcher. "I really like getting out there and throwing in that first one. It makes me comfortable, and the team seems to respond."

While Tuesday night was all about optimism and hope, Tony Ice, the brother of legendary Lawrence legion coach Al Ice, made sure the Raiders knew history wasn't on their side.

Ice reminded the team "it's a hard thing to do" to win a state title and that no Lawrence team had accomplished the feat since 1964.

Brooks can attest to the championship drought in the Lawrence dugout, having just missed out playing for the championship team in '64. He moved to Lawrence for his senior year of high school in 1965.

"I don't want to put any added pressure on them," Brooks said. "But they know that they are a good team and that if they play to their ability, they are probably the best team in the state."

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