Continuity, experience and companionship are three ingredients that can be found on any successful baseball team. If you don’t believe it, just ask the Lakeview Academy Lions.
With four seniors and a bevy of underclassmen that have played together since they were young ballplayers, the Lions started the season 8-1 and sit atop the Region 8-A standings with a 2-0 record.
There are several reasons behind Lakeview’s hot start, with none more important than the next. Instead all the reasons add up to the Lions not only thinking region championship, but state championship, as well.
“It’s all attributed to team work,” senior Brett Armour said. “We’re all playing as one unit and everyone is playing their part and their role on the team.
“We’re ready to go, everything is meshing right now.”
That’s in large part due to team chemistry. The majority of Lakeview’s roster play football and basketball together, and when they’re not participating in high school athletics, this group of friends are building relationships that cross over to the playing field.
“If you come watch us play, we’re a close-knit group and we’re always picking each other up if we make mistakes,” senior Nick Saye said. “Right now we have great team chemistry and we’re playing well together, but we still haven’t played our best baseball. We’re still waiting for that perfect game.”
Saye and the rest of his teammates hopes that game comes Thursday when the Lions travel to Athens to take on eighth-ranked Athens Academy (8-1, 2-0). Although it’s still early in the season, the game against the Spartans could have playoff implications.
“There’s no tournament or anything at the end so every game is important,” senior Haughton Carswell said.
It’s even more important if the game is against one of your rivals.
“They’re ranked eighth in the state and we hate them,” senior Tyler Ward said. “Athens Academy doesn’t like us, we don’t like them. It’s a good old fashion rivalry.”
Last year the Lions owned the rivalry outscoring Athens Academy 32-14 in two meetings, including a 20-3 rout near the end of the season.
“Last year we really put one on them and we’re hoping we can do that again,” Saye said.
If Lakeview comes out of Thursday’s meeting with a win, it could put the Lions in early position for a region title, especially since Lakeview and the rest of the teams in Region 8-A no longer have to worry about the Jefferson Dragons, who moved up to Class AA this season.
“I wish Jefferson the best in their region but I’m glad to see them over there,” Lakeview coach Deuce Roark said. “It opens up the region for baseball, it’s a little more consistent across the board.”
That puts an onus on every game, especially ones against region title contenders like Athens Academy.
“It’s a big game, and it’s really why you play baseball for big games like that,” Roark said. “Unfortunately it’s early in the season, but it’s going to set a tone for how we carry ourselves for the rest of the first half of the region play.”
Not only will a win set the tone, but it may also give the Lions some notoriety, something that their counterparts Thursday already are experiencing.
“Us being 8-1 and nowhere in the polls, and (Athens Academy) being eighth...it’s a good opportunity for us to put our foot down and say, ‘Hey, look at us,’” Ward said.
And when those people look, they’ll see a team based on continuity, experience, companionship, and oh, a little bit of talent too.
“We’re not necessarily the most talented, but we have hustle, discipline and hard work,” Ward said. “You look around, we’re not huge, we’re not tall, we’re just guys who lay it all on the line for one certain goal and that’s to be state champions.”