Collective .400 average fuels Lakewood baseball to perfect start

LAKEWOOD — With a walk and a base hit,  Cedarcrest had two on and one out, but Lakewood pitcher Andrew Bean worked his way out of the jam with a strikeout and a ground out.

And then when it came time for the Cougars to hit, Mother Nature proved once again to be the only thing that can stop their bats as the game was called off April. The Cougars have yet to lose after seven games this year, and a lot of that success can be seen on the scuff marks of their bats.

“We’re off to a good start,” said Lakewood manager Larry Delaney. “We’ve been swinging the bat really well because every guy has gone up to the plate with a plan.”

The results are irrefutable as Lakewood has scored 96 runs so far this season, routinely shortening games with its offense and the 10-run mercy rule. As a team, the Cougars are hitting better than .400 so far this year.

“I would call us mature hitters,” said Delaney. “We don’t swing at balls and we only swing at pitches we want to see in certain counts.”

A standout in this batting arsenal has been leadoff man Lucas Harkins, who is batting better than .700 so far this season with a trio of home runs.

“He’s just spraying bullets all over the field,” said Delaney. “It’s nice to be able to have a guy like that start games for you.”

But hitting alone doesn’t win games the Cougars have used a number of pitchers to get where they are, starting with Kevin Harnden, Bean and Cody Blount.

“We don’t have that one dominant guy, but they have all be effective for us so far this year,” said Delaney.

And then, when another team finally starts to get to his starters, he has been able to bring in Braden Burbee, who has appeared in six games this year and allowed just one earned run.

“Our starters aren’t at the point yet where they can go the whole game, so Braden has been able to be solid for an inning or two every game,” said Delaney.

Just about the only problem the Cougars have had this year is getting games played. Poor weather has postponed four games already, leaving a number to still be played.

“We’ll get them in, it’s just a matter of when,” said Delaney.

Opponents aren’t likely to be holding their breath.