Sports

Lakewood baseball finding a home near top of league

Lakewood infielder Alex Keene practices catching pop-ups. - Travis Sherer
Lakewood infielder Alex Keene practices catching pop-ups.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

LAKEWOOD — As a program, Cougar baseball has found a place near the top of the Cascade Conference and manager Larry Delaney sees no reason for that to change in 2011.

“Archbishop Murphy is going to return a solid team and Cedarcrest is always strong, though they did lose a lot of seniors,” he said. “I see us being right up there when it’s all said and done.”

Lakewood has finished in third place the last two years with a record of 10-8.

This year, Delaney expects Lakewood to be fueled by hitting and defense.

“I think we’re going to hit the ball pretty well,” he said. “We’ve got a number of guys with the ability to get on base, but that remains to be seen.”

The Cougars return the nucleus of their offense from 2010, starting with Kevin Harnden, who will switch from second base to catcher.

“He’s spent last summer making the transition and Kevin’s shown a lot of progress at the position,” said Delaney.

Lucas Harkins will remain a middle infielder this year and as the team’s leadoff hitter.

Sharing the middle of the infield with Harkins will be junior Alex Keene and Andrew Beane will switch from first base to third base.

Harnden and Beane will also take the mound for Lakewood, joining Cody Blount, who will also play first base.

“Cody’s a big, strong guy and we’re going to look to get a bunch of production out of him,” said Delaney. “We didn’t need that as much last year, so we didn’t ask that of him, but we can see him fit nicely into a bigger role.”

The Cougars also will have a number of players come up to fill roles, including Brandon Stott, Adam Opplinger and Josh Linscott.

While the Cougars have a fairly good idea of who will be in their infield, the outfield and pitching will work its way out in the first couple of weeks.

“Our outfield will be completely new this year,” he said. “And we’re deep in pitching. We may not have a dominant arm, but we have a lot of options. We’ll just have to figure out which ones to use.”

While he sees success at the end of the season, Delaney said not to worry about what happens the first few weeks of the season.

“I wouldn’t put much faith in what happens the first series or two of the year,” he said. “Because of the weather, some teams might not be able to really practice on their fields until the day before games.”

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