In April 14 Issue
The Russell County Laker baseball team (5-3) returned from their spring break trip to Ft. Walton Beach, Fla. on Saturday, bringing back a 2-3 record after a tough week of baseball action against some top competition.
The 10 hour bus ride for the Lakers may have played a role in the outcome of the team's first game in the Ft. Walton Beach Bash as they were defeated 14-0 to Paul Laurence Dunbar out of Lexington last Sunday.
"We just laid a goose egg," said Laker coach David Rexroat. "I don't take away anything from Dunbar, though, they are one of the best teams in Lexington right now."
The Laker junior varsity fell 1-0 to Dunbar as well.
On Monday the Lakers fell in eight innings to Hopkinsville, 3-2, putting them at 0-2 for the trip and in a tough spot.
"We held a 2-1 lead going into the late innings and made a few errors and they tied it back up and we ended up losing in extra innings," he said. The Laker junior varsity did pull out a big victory over Hopkinsville, 17-3, for their biggest win of the week.
The varsity's third game of the week was against Louisville Fairdale and the Lakers used a come from behind surge to pull out the 4-3 victory.
"It should've been a larger margin but it seemed like we were flat again," he said. Wednesday's game featured the Lakers against Lone Oak. It was a game where the Lakers were up 4-1 but eventually fell 9-7 in another tough defeat.
He said he was displeased with how his team couldn't manage a lead in the game as they gave up several runs late to fall behind and eventually lose.
The varsity's final game of the weeklong trip was a matchup with Anderson County on Friday where the Lakers hit on all cylinders to win 12-6.
"We hit the ball pretty well and Taylor Hutchison performed well on the mound, allowing just one walk late in the game," he said. "I brought Caleb Russell in to get the last out because Taylor had reached his 100 pitch plateau."
Rexroat said as the week progressed he saw many things that his team did well but there was still much room for improvement.
"I think we'll be okay but we're just looking for game consistency," he said. "Hopefully the weather will cooperate here at home."
The Laker coach said Hunter Best pitched a good game against Hopkinsville and that Caleb Russell had pitched extremely well in relief for the trip. Blake Aaron had several hits for the Lakers on the trip and played errorless defense, according to Rexroat. Tyler Robertson continued to hit the ball well for the Lakers and had several big RBIs last week but is still not where he needs to be pitching-wise, Rexroat said.
Taylor Hutchison, who is now batting cleanup, swung the bat with confidence as Rexroat hopes for him to improve on his gap to gap hitting. Garret Stephens hit the ball well in Florida and was bumped up in the batting order while Evan Selby continued his strong play in the outfield. Lucas Whittle hit the ball well in the designated hitter slot while Jared Coffey hit the ball well to the opposite field throughout the week. Jalen Bennett played solid as he caught for most of the week and had several hits as well. Martin Cross played solid defensively at third base and even connected on a 3-run homerun against Anderson County, the first varsity long ball of his career. Rexroat said Jake Blakey played some outfield for the Lakers as he started a few games on the trip.
"I think the guys enjoyed it," Rexroat said of the trip. "We try to play as much baseball as we can but we let the guys have some enjoyment on their own."
He said he was pleased with how courteous and responsible his team acted while on the trip as he said he received numerous compliments on the manners and discipline of the team.
"I appreciate the way they handled themselves down there apart from baseball," he said.
With the team now home from the trip, they're looking to get down to business.
"I know a lot of people want to come out and watch them play," he said. "We're still a few weeks away from seeing the best this team has to offer."