For coach Brian Hucks and his Lexington baseball staff, the celebration of the Wildcats’ 2013 Class 4A baseball championship did not last long.
“That group we had a last year was an incredible group, and it was great to win with them, but you know as a coaching staff there is always work to do,” Hucks said. “We enjoyed it that night, but us coaches were back to work the next day.”
Hucks’ staff had already developed a plan for the Wildcats’ 2014 season, when last season’s leadoff hitter Ryan Brown and third baseman Jordan Buster would be the most experienced players. The Wildcats have a strong feeder system, and the junior varsity and B-teams would supply Lexington with a fresh crop of talent to fill in the ranks.
“We put a lot of work into our younger group, and we knew that they would be who we were working with this year,” Hucks said.
The Wildcats’ new bunch is solid and eager to carry on Lexington’s tradition of success on the diamond.
“There is no added pressure on them from the championship last year,” Hucks said. “There is pressure when you put on the Lexington uniform, to compete at a certain level, no matter what, and these guys understand that.”
Brown said the team still talks about winning another championship, especially for the small group of seniors leading this year’s team.
“We talk about it all the time, that’s all we want. I want my journey to end right, and I think we all want that same thing,” said Brown, who is reprising his role as the team’s leadoff hitter.
“I think we’re very capable of the same thing and we have the same mentality as last year, to work hard and win,” Buster said. “Our group of guys, of course they’re young, but they saw what we did last year and they are motivated to do just as well.”
Lexington lost many of its key contributors from last season, including catcher Nick Ciuffo and infielders Dalton Addy and David Barboza.
For this year’s team, lining up talent on the mound – where USC signee Josh Reagan led the Wildcats last season – was the most pressing need.
“You’ve got to be on the mound to win games at this level, and that’s what we’re working on,” Hucks said.
Cordes Baker leads the Wildcats with a 2-0 record, 0.0 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched. Lexington coaches are working to develop the rest of the pitching rotation, with Michael Smoak and Chase Williamson, who has been injured, developing as the likely No. 2 and 3.
And regardless of their youth or experience, the Wildcats expect to be great.
“We hold ourselves to a standard to do well and be successful. That standard is part of Lexington baseball. Each year just adds on to what we do,” Buster said.
Reach Nelson at (803) 771-8419