Lakewood Cougars look to close the gap

Center fielder Shay Deering, left, takes batting practice. - Travis Sherer
Center fielder Shay Deering, left, takes batting practice.
— image credit: Travis Sherer

LAKEWOOD — With many of the positions set around the diamond, Cougars coach Larry Delaney will be on the lookout for pitching.

"Right now we've got the pieces to put together a pretty good lineup and defense. We just have to find out where the pitching is going to come from," he said. "It might take a while to figure out and the guys know this."

That being said, the Cougars are returning a number of contributors from around the horn, starting with third baseman Corey Moore.

"He's one of those middle-of-the lineup type guys," Delaney said. "He has the ability to hit some power, but he's more of a gap-to-gap guy."

Moore will likely be teamed up with fellow senior Micheal Leach, who has become sort of a jack of all trades. Leach was a designated hitter who played around the field as a sophomore two years ago, and played everyday in either left field or first base. This year he's turning both of those gloves in to play catcher.

"He's a very good catcher, but there just hasn't been an opportunity for him to play that role for us until this year," Delaney said. "The kid has got a great bat and he's just got baseball sense."

Also helping out is Lucas Aurking in the infield and Sway Dearing will once again patrol center field for the Cougars.

"Sway's got good speed and we want him to hit line drives and use his speed around the bases," Delaney said.

While pitching will be limited, the Cougars do return a solid, albeit crafty, starter from last year in Trent Melhart.

"He doesn't throw real hard, but he mixes his pitches real well," Delaney said.

The Cougars are looking to avoid two things from 2009, with the first being a season that ended one win away from the state tournament, and the other being a 1-5 record to start the season. Lakewood then rebounded for a with a 12-5 streak to finish in third place with a 13-10 record overall and a 10-8 conference record.

Conference play won't be a walk in the park, of course — not with Class 2A defending state champion Cedarcrest returning a number of players, and the same going for conference champion Archbishop Murphy.

"Those would probably be the preseason 1-and-2 or 2-and-1," Deleany said.

The Cougars begin their season with a series against Archbishop Murphy with an away game March 17 and a home game March 19.

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