Retooled Raiders have high expectations

June 5, 2012


Raiders roster

Name, school

Trevor Champagne, LHS

John Fellers, FSHS

Corbin Francisco, LHS

Devin Garcia, LHS

Aaron Gile, LHS

Landon Hay, LHS

Trent Johnson, FSHS

Otto Kaifes, St. James

Tommy Oswald, FSHS

JD Prochaska, FSHS

CJ Roush, LHS

Montana Samuels, FSHS

Cameron Solko, LHS

Matt Sutliffe, LHS

Matt Wagner, St. James

Aaron Waldeck, St. James

Troy Willoughby, LHS

When Brad Romme heard who would be playing for the Lawrence Raiders this year, it didn’t take him long to accept the job offer to become the American Legion baseball team’s head coach.

Lawrence High coach Brad Stoll and Free State coach Mike Hill presented the rundown of experienced varsity players Romme would have a chance to work with this summer. From LHS: Trevor Champagne, CJ Roush, Cameron Solko, Matt Sutliffe and Troy Willoughby, plus Lions alumni Corbin Francisco and Aaron Gile. From Free State: Trent Johnson, JD Prochaska and Montana Samuels.

“It was an absolute no-brainer after that,” said Romme, an LHS graduate who played for the Raiders.

The Raiders went 4-1 at the Mid-America Tournament this past weekend for their new coach, a former FSHS assistant coach on Hill’s staff.

The makeup of the team will be different than it was last year, when many experienced varsity players from the city’s schools played for teams in the Kansas City Metro area or Topeka. With the Raiders back to a more traditional roster, Romme is looking forward to coaching the group.

“They’re really all such good buddies,” Romme said, “and wanted to play together this summer.”

While the Raiders’ initial success at their debut tournament came in large part from complete-game pitching performances, Solko said the team’s strength might actually be its offense.

“We have a bunch of just crazy hitters in our lineup that can turn around on 89 mph,” Solko said. “It’s fun to watch.”

With so much talent and experience on the roster, Solko added, no one has to carry the burden of leading the team or being the main source of hitting, pitching or defense.

“We just have a bunch of athletes, honestly. We have first basemen playing right field,” Solko said, referring to Sutliffe.

An experienced infielder, Francisco pitched for the Raiders in one of their weekend victories.

“I think all of our players,” Solko said, “are willing to play anywhere, and that’s what makes it so cool.”

Samuels said all of the Raiders lead in their own way, and with so many guys focused on improving before they play at the college level, it should make for a successful summer season.

“That’s probably the biggest part of it,” Samuels said, “is getting us prepared.”

The first baseman from Free State agreed with Solko that no one would have to stand out or carry the Raiders.

“Everyone’s really gonna show what they can do,” Samuels said.

The Raiders, Samuels added, are a “tight-knit” group, because many of them have played together or against each other since they were little leaguers.

Between that and their talent level, the Raiders expect plenty of victories this summer.

“We can be as good as anybody we play,” Samuels said.

The Raiders will host Kansas City Millhouse at 6 tonight at LHS.


boxers_or_briefs 6 years ago

I wonder if this a pay to play team once again?

Clickker 6 years ago

Good question. I thought they wanted to get away from that model. Also, where are the younger guys at the HS's playing? Any Legion teams for them? Maybe they are concentrating on football this summer.

Take_a_letter_Maria 6 years ago

Yes, it is a pay to play team.

I believe somewhere in the $700-800/player from what I was told.

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