To rejuvenate his baseball team leading up to its regional semifinal this afternoon, Lawrence High coach Brad Stoll allowed players from past teams to offer some words of wisdom in practices over the last week.
Members of the 2009 state championship team and 2008 regional championship team talked about their experiences for the current batch of Lions.
“The energy level has been rekindled, I think,” Stoll said.
The fifth-seeded Lions (11-9) take on fourth-seeded Washburn Rural (13-7) at 2 p.m. today in Manhattan. Free State (15-5), the second seed, will host seventh-seeded Junction City (7-13) at 4:30 p.m. today at FSHS.
If either team wins, they will advance to the regional championship for the right to go to the state tournament.
The Lions will send Alex Laughlin to the mound in the first game. Garrett Cleavinger will take the ball if the Lions make it to the championship.
Both pitchers were a part of the Lions’ gut-wrenching regional championship loss to Manhattan last season.
“They’re both hungry, and they want a little redemption from what happened last year,” Stoll said.
Free State coach Mike Hill has tabbed the combination of J.D. Prochaska and Colin Toalson for the first game. Hill said the Firebirds would pitch whomever they need to for the second game.
He was pleased with the way the Firebirds were able to end the season, sweeping Lawrence High in their final two games.
“We’ve looked good over the past week and a half, not just during games, but in practice, which is indicative of our improvement,” Hill said.
Hill is a little worried about the one-week layoff from games, but he realizes that every other team has to deal with a similar situation heading into the single-elimination postseason.
“It’s one-and-done, and if you don’t play well, you’re out,” Hill said. “In the end, we have to worry about ourselves and take care of what we can control.”
Stoll said his team is ready for its matchup with the Junior Blues.
“I think we’re a better team,” Stoll said. “I think we’re the best team in the regional. We feel confident about our matchup.”
If the city schools are able to advance, the championship games will start at 7 p.m.