The Chanute Post 170 A junior Legion baseball team is set to lace their cleats up as the summer season is finally here.
This year the junior boys of summer will try to top a 2018, 10-19 record, as well as advance to the state tournament as last year, the 17 and younger group lost to Topeka and Emporia in the 2018 Zone Tournament.
Managing the team will be second-year coach Mike Lucas, Ben Schwegman and Hunter Friederich.
Fifteen baseball players, including 12 from Chanute, two from Humboldt High School and one from Erie High School will field, hit and pitch through at least a 31-game season, with the season set to start today to Sunday in the Wood Bat Tournament in Ottawa. The first game will be against the Salina Hawks.
While every player is important to the success of a baseball team, there are always those who lead the way.
Tyson Lucas will pitch, as well as play first and third. In his high school JV year, he registered a .406 on-base percentage with seven walks. He has a penchant for hitting the ball hard, and with a couple tweaks here and there, Tyson will hit the ground running, his dad Mike said.
“He hits the ball so hard, that if he would have hit the ball five foot either way, they’re hits,” Lucas said. “If he gets a little stronger and he lifts weights over the summer, those balls will start dropping. As temperatures heat up, (the baseball) carries a little more. Things will change totally. That was a lot of guys’ stories. They hit the ball good, they just had to hit it at people.”
Caden Schwegman, who will pitch, play second and shortstop for Chanute Post 170 A, hit .515 with a .600 on-base percentage and a .697 slugging percentage, while producing two doubles and two triples with 12 RBI for Chanute’s JV team in 2019. Combined with his field measurables, he is a silent leader, and Lucas said Schwegman likes to “lead by example.” Still, Lucas said Schwegman is developing as more of a vocal leader.
Gage Guiot, who will play first, third, pitch and catch this summer, had a .393 on-base percentage and a .364 slugging percentage for the JV Blue Comets, so he can hit for power. Guiot in the field had a .912 percentage with three errors, and pitching-wise he struck out six in 5 and 2/3 innings. The 2019 freshman is adept at holding runners from both positions – pitching and catching – and is also a natural at throwing the ball with power.
Lane Roberts will play catcher and third base for the junior legion Chanute team. For the Blue Comets JV squad, he had a .533 on-base percentage, coupled with a .368 slugging percentage and two doubles, while fielding with a .1000 percentage.
“We are really looking forward to him to take a step forward, and develop as a catcher,” Lucas said.
Braxton Harding is a do-it-all player, and will be placed at center field and, though Lucas said playing in the infield isn’t far-fetched. For the Blue Comets in 2019, he had a .500 on-base percentage and a .292 slugging percentage, while in the field he didn’t make a mistake. One of Harding’s strong suits is his ability to run well, and Lucas said he is using just that to hone his base-running ability.
“He is just developing as a base runner, and learning how to use that speed,” Lucas continued.
Aaron Robertson last year for CHS’s JV group batted .583, with a .688 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage. Robertson had a .833 fielding percentage, too. Robertson will pitch, as well as play second and the outfield.
Blake Atwood last season for CHS junior varsity hit at .357 with eight RBI. He will be much needed for his offensive ability.
Jackson McMahan for CHS’s JV team hit .545 with a .643 on-base percentage and a .727 slugging percentage. He, too, will be needed on offense and defense, but right now he isn’t cleared to play as McMahan has an elbow injury; Lucas said the team is hoping for McMahan to be cleared by late in the season.
Although stats are great, Lucas knows these athletes well past the numbers. The second-year manager has coached these players since they have been 8- and 9-year-olds, and now that they have grown a little, he said he will turn to them for leadership responsibilities.
“The kids that are returning, I lean on them quite a bit for self-discipline and self-leadership,” Lucas said. “I’ve been around them a long time and have watched them grow. They’re good young men off the field, and they’re an enjoyable team to coach. (We’ve) got some very good ballplayers.”
And once the season starts today, Lucas said he wants his players to have fun.
“My message to them all along is to just relax, let the game come to you and have fun,” Lucas said. “If you go out and press, you don’t get anywhere, just let the game come to you and have fun.”