Spring is the season of change, and that saying carries extra weight in Levitsburg this year.
Both the baseball and softball programs have undergone a very significant change. Welcoming new coaches to both programs and rosters brimming with youth, the Vikings are certainly showing signs of thriving.
Sitting at 13-3 on the season, the LaBrae baseball program just pulled off a big, 6-4, weather-default win over Jackson-Milton on Friday.
The Vikings have been helped by injecting a plethora of youngsters into the lineup. Freshmen Landon Brunstetter, Lucas Glaser and Austin Roe are just three of Labra’s freshmen.
“Not just in hitting, but in promoting,” said baseball coach Ed Anthony. “We’ve brought in a new student, Landon (Brunstetter), who came in there when he had two guys and did his job. Those kids come together. We just have to keep them focused and we have to keep reminding them of certain things because they’re so young and I’m sure they’re getting butterflies.” Because they’re young. I can tell you now as each game progresses and with every situation they get into, (they) feel more comfortable.”
The Vikings boast a 138-43 run lead so far this season. Mistakes by an inexperienced side still rear their heads now and again, but with a deep spin in the field and a batting order that continues to find its confidence as matches go on, Labra has a chance to make some noise this season. .
“We needed that. We had a nice couple of runs, I think, twice, with a couple of outings, and it worked out,” he said. Anthony said. “Different kids from the lineup too. We created freshman Tamarine Roberts and he went 2-vs-2 today and played big. That’s what we need. We need our hitting to keep catching up and get a little better. But we’ve got to clean up those mistakes because that’s something we have to work on.” on him “.
In terms of softball matters, the Vikings sit at 9-4, more than four times the team’s win total from the previous year.
All without a big roster presence and a lineup that includes many freshmen.
“We started four or five new students.” said softball coach Dwayne Buck. “We are working hard to change this whole program and the girls are responding very well. I am very proud of them.”
One of the senior players on the team, Riley McDonough, has been a hugely influential player for the Vikings this season. McDonough hit 10 home runs in 13 games, tying the single-season record.
“She got 10 home runs, but I bet she got more than 10 intentional walks too,” Buck said after the Garfield game, in which McDonough hit a record-breaking home run. “I mean, it makes a huge difference. People obviously notice because no one is turning to her. It’s going to be even harder to reach them now, because you have to be really patient,” I told her. She listens and does a really good job, and doesn’t try to force the problem.
An all-young Vikings squad is due to return next year, so Labra will be hoping to get some valuable experience this season and make a real push in the following years, as they look to re-establish the program as a home-grown powerhouse.
“We don’t have any seniors, so we should get everyone back and we’ll have a good chapter coming next year. This year we’re trying to right the ship,” he said. Buck said. “I know they had a tough year last year. My goal is to change the situation, change the way they approach the game and if we can get double digit wins and maybe get a playoff run. It would be massive if we can get a playoff win for this team and try to move forward.” .
Both teams have home contests against Brookfield on Monday, with a return trip through Trumbull County the next day. The softball team is scheduled to face Campbell on Wednesday, Crestview on Thursday, Lakeview on Friday and cap off the week with a doubleheader against Crestwood on Saturday. Hubbard is scheduled to host a baseball game on Thursday.