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Archive for Thursday, April 7, 2005

Baseball amiable for Lions, Firebirds

April 7, 2005

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First-year Lawrence High baseball coach Brad Stoll already has discussed today's city showdown with his former boss, Free State coach Mike Hill.

Well, kind of.

The two are close friends and visit often, but talk of today's 5:30 p.m. contest at Free State has not been about swapping strategies or anything of that nature.

"The one thing we did talk about was what time we were going to hit on the field (during warmups)," Stoll said, "and where we're going to go after the game to eat."

Practice times and dinner plans are set. Now there's just the little matter of actually playing the game.

The Lions (2-4) will look to give Stoll the biggest victory of his young head-coaching career, and they have a little momentum coming in after a dramatic 6-5 victory Tuesday over Shawnee Mission East. Even though this is Stoll's first trip back to the field where he was an assistant coach for seven seasons, he is trying to play down the importance of the game to his players in the big picture.

"I told the kids and told our coaching staff that we have to treat this game like it's any of the other 20 on our schedule," he said. "We can't just hold anybody out to save them for Free State."

Stoll said LHS played Tuesday's game to win, not to prepare for Free State. He plans to throw one of his two lefties -- David Freeman or Will Falk -- today against a predominately right-handed Firebird lineup.

Despite the desire to win today, he still has to have a little fun with it, right?

"My wife asked me if I'm nervous, and I told her there's no reason to be nervous," Stoll said. "I get to coach against my best friends. It's just going to be an awesome atmosphere."

On the other side, Hill is downplaying the game against Stoll for another reason. His team just needs to win.

After Tuesday's 13-4 loss to Olathe North, Free State (3-2) is out to prove that setback was a fluke.

"Maybe to an extent it just wasn't our day," Hill said. "Our first and foremost thought is that we become a better baseball team. For the kids, I don't think it's about coach Stoll.

"I think our goals are beyond just trying to beat Lawrence High. I think the fact that it's against a rival will certainly help us."

Tyler Blankenship (0-1) will take the mound for the Firebirds.

Free State asks spectators to use the parking lots around the school and not park on the road that runs between the baseball field and the Lawrence Indoor Aquatic Center.

Also, it will be Red Cross Day at the game. Donations of any amount will be accepted at the gate.

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