Above, senior lead-off hitter Daniel Scronce takes hacks during Tuesdayâ€™s indoor practice. The Rebels moved practice indoors due to the cold weather. Scronce will be counted on to jump start West Lincolnâ€™s offense.
Right, senior Dustin Hester led the Rebels with a .350 batting average in 2004. He was also a state runner-up in the 1A/2A Wrestling Tournament.
Chris Dean / LTN Photos
A team on the verge of a breakout year could be the West Lincoln Rebels. In 2004, the Rebels showed the ability to win games. Now with a positive season (15-11) to build on, theyâ€™re hoping for even bigger things.
According to head coach Allan Chapman, the strength of this yearâ€™s team is on the mound. Right-handed junior Chris Henderson, Jonathan Thomas also a junior right-hander and junior right-hander Derrik Boggs bring contrasting styles to the table.
â€œWe expect a lot of leadership on the mound from those three. Derrik is more of a control-location pitcher where as Chris and Jonathan are both more strike-out power pitchers,â€ he said.
Some young guns Chapman hopes to work over the course of the season are: sophomore southpaw Ryan Rhodes, sophomore Daniel Smith and freshman leftie Jake Watts.
â€œDaniel throws hard, much like Chris and Jonathanâ€”he just doesnâ€™t have a lot of experience. Ryan is just your typical leftie: a lot of movement, strong arm and weâ€™re really excited about what those two (Smith and Watts) bring to the table the next three years,â€ Chapman said.
Watts has loads of potential according to the coach.
â€œJake is a big kid. A strong kid who throws the ball well and locates the ball well. Heâ€™s pitching at a level heâ€™s never pitched and heâ€™s going to have to work his way through some bumps in the road and help out for the next four years,â€ Chapman said.
The only negative when it comes to their pitching rotation is Thomas will begin the season sidelined with a shoulder injury. They donâ€™t know how long heâ€™ll be out. Even so, Chapman is expecting some to emerge in Thomasâ€™ absence.
â€œThat is the strength of our team because we have no problem putting any of the four on the mound. J.T.â€™s shoulder situation is going to allow some of those kids to gain valuable innings,â€ he said.
Senior lead-off man Daniel Scronce, junior Paul Finger, junior Chris Henderson (22 RBIs) and senior Dustin Hester, who led the Rebels with a .350 average last season all are expected to have big years at the plate.
â€œTheyâ€™re (Scronce and Finger) the two with a lot of legion experience. That valuable experience should allow them to take it into this year and be very successful,â€ Chapman said.
Smith has been â€˜very impressive in the scrimmagesâ€™ according to Chapman. Sophomore Payden Houser defies his years with the patience he exhibits up to bat.
â€œHeâ€™s just very solid. Heâ€™s got great hands and is real disciplined at the plate,â€ Chapman said.
On the defensive end of things, senior Heath Cole plans to play third after spending last season at second.
With a solid mixture of youth and seasoned players, Chapman believes his team has what it takes to be successful.
â€œWeâ€™ve got a lot of talent, but weâ€™re also going to play a lot of young kids. If we can eliminate the youthful mistakes and rely on our pitching that we feel like is going to be pretty good and score some runs then we should be fairly competitive.â€
The Rebelsâ€™ season will get underway hosting Fred T. Foard today at 4:30 p.m.
by John Mark Brooks