Warriors open new season

Published 11:44 pm Sunday, March 4, 2018


Daily News

The season began on a losing note, but that did nothing to quell the enthusiasm of LaGrange Academy head coach Brandon Lybrand.

It’s a team with a mixture of returning veterans and talented newcomers, and Lybrand believes it could be a superb spring for his team, which opened the season with a 2-1 home loss to Heritage on Saturday.

“This year, we’ve got the potential to do something special, some things that haven’t been done in a while,” Lybrand said. “We’re excited. The boys felt good about today, and we’re going to get after it on Monday (against Grace Christian) and keep working hard.”

A strength of LaGrange Academy’s team this season should be the pitching, and that was on display on Saturday.

Joseph Calhoun started and pitched five solid innings, holding Heritage to seven hits and two runs, and Mason Brown finished things with two scoreless innings.

“I thought Jo-Jo (Calhoun) pitched excellent, and Mason did a great job,” Lybrand said.  “Defensively, we didn’t make an error. That was tremendous. Teams in the past, we’d make three or four. We were really solid on defense.”

Lybrand believes having a capable defense offers peace of mind for the pitchers.

“It’s huge knowing that even if they make a mistake in location, they’ve got a defense that’s solid,” Lybrand said. “We’ve got a tremendous infield, and our outfield will continue to get better.”

LaGrange Academy finished with seven hits.

Daniel Swann, one of LaGrange Academy’s newcomers, had two hits, and Calhoun had two hits and a walk.

Luke Swann had a hit and a walk and he scored the Warriors’ lone run, and Riley Hess had a hit.

Heritage jumped on top with a run in the top of the first, and it added another run in the sixth inning to go up 2-0.

LaGrange Academy scored its lone run in the bottom of the sixth.

Luke Swann got things started with a walk, and after a pitching change, he stole second to get in scoring position.

Daniel Swann then reached on an infield single, and Luke Swann came all the way around from second to score the Warriors’ first run.

Two batters later, Riley Hess hit a groundball to the shortstop, who threw home in an attempt to get Daniel Swann.

Swann went in standing up and the ball got away from the catcher, and he was initially ruled safe.

The umpire quickly reversed course, though, and called interference on Swann, so it was an out instead of a run.

“That would have tied the game, and who knows how things would have gone differently,” Lybrand said.

The next batter struck out, and the inning was over with Heritage still ahead.

After Brown set Heritage down in the top of the seventh, LaGrange Academy came to bat in the bottom of the inning needing a run to tie it.

With two outs, Calhoun lined a two-strike pitch into the outfield for a base hit, and he stole second.

Brown hit the ball hard on the ground, but it was fielded by the shortstop, who threw to first for the final out.

“When we got through, I told the boys even after the loss, there were a lot of positives,” Lybrand said. “I was real pleased with how we played today.”

Lybrand believes the offense will round into shape as the Warriors play more games.

“That was Heritage’s sixth game,” Lybrand said. “It was our first game seeing live pitching from another team. Our timing will get better.”

LaGrange Academy and Heritage will play again on March 13.

“I’m real interested to see how much better we’ll be by then,” Lybrand said.