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Archive for Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Pitching, continuity keys for Outlaws

June 7, 2006

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Chris Johnson inherited a pretty good team when he took over the Lawrence Outlaws U-17 American Legion baseball team - and much to his enjoyment, it's a team he's familiar with.

After working under Brad Stoll with the U-16 Lawrence Mavericks, Johnson is making the jump to the Outlaws with a majority of the former Mavericks players he coached.

"I've pretty much got the same team as we had last year," Johnson said.

Johnson will turn to Jordan Guntert to help lead the slightly tweaked squad. Guntert, one of the former Maverick players making an appearance with the Outlaws, will see time in the outfield, at the plate, and most importantly, on the mound.

Guntert, along with Drew Hulse, Joe Kornbrust and Preston Scheibler, will be throwing from the rubber for the Legion team.

"We're just loaded with pitchers," Johnson said nonchalantly.

The Outlaws are also loaded with Lawrence High players, having only one Free State High player - Brian O'Toole.

Johnson said the tandem of Sam Anderson and Travis Sanders up the middle will also aid his stock of Outlaw pitchers.

Sanders will play an important role at the plate as well, as Johnson said he regularly will have him batting leadoff.

However, one thing that has Johnson a little antsy is the performance of his cleanup hitter and center fielder, Tony Williams.

"He's real solid at the plate," Johnson said, "when he has an on day. But he's solid at the plate and needs to step up when he can and just hit the ball."

The Outlaws will be on the road for the start of their season - playing today at Basehor for their season opener, followed by a trip to Emporia before playing at home.

"We're not having to travel too far," the first-year Outlaw coach said. "It's important for them to get to see different fields and different teams than what they do in high school ball. I think the kids really like to travel and like to see those players that they don't get to see during high school."

The squad originally was supposed to start its season Tuesday at Chanute, but the games were canceled and the two teams are currently working on rescheduling the matchup later in the season.

The Outlaws will take on the Topeka Golden Giants in their home-opener June 13 at Ice Field.

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