Even though South Lakes High School's varsity baseball team has started the season with two losses (13-3 to Herndon and 16-0 to McLean), coach Galvin Morris remains optimistic about the young team.
With only five seniors on this year’s roster, South Lakes will depend on the contribution of its underclassmen throughout the season. Senior athlete Ryan Forrest, who is a also a top South Lakes wrestler, led Seahawk batters last season in batting average (.346) and hits (18) and posted an on-base percentage of .435.
“Ryan brings his wrestling mentality to our baseball program. He brings his mental toughness and leadership,” said Morris. “
Senior catcher Austin Schweppe joins Forrest and will be expected to produce similar results to his successful 2011 campaign. Schweppe batted .297 last season, with 11 hits and two stolen bases. But his plate presence proved invaluable as he drew a team-high 11 walks and an impressive .481 on base percentage.
“Austin comes from a baseball family. As a catcher, he knows the strike zone, and that’s where he benefits from being a catcher,” Morris said. “That’s why he draws so many walks.”
In 70 at-bats last season, senior Billy McLaughlin led South Lakes hitters in runs batted in (14) and hit two home runs. He also stole four bases and scored seven runs. After batting .200 on the year, Morris is looking for his power hitter to become more patient and consistent at the plate.
“Billy, by far, is one of top hitters this year. One of the things we talked with him about from last year is that he needs to cut down the strikeouts,” said Morris. “He’s worked hard all off-season on getting his swing down and we’re hoping that he can be a .300 hitter this year.”
After losing pitchers John Beck and Will Sweet to graduation, Morris was tasked with finding suitable replacements for the two, who pitched a combined 94.3 innings last season. Senior pitcher Nick Beaulac was expected to become South Lakes’ ace this season, but the hurler underwent surgery to repair damage to his arm which will force him to miss his senior year.
“Losing Nick was hard on us," Morris said. "He was going to be our starting pitcher coming into the season. Losing him was huge to our program."
Pitching duties will be shared by McLaughlin, Forrest, sophomore Josh Forrest and JoJo Lear. McLaughlin appeared in six games as a pitcher last season and pitched 10.40 innings with an impressive 2.88 earned run average. He struggled after six solid innings against Herndon last Friday, but has emerged as the Seahawks’ most dominant pitcher. Ryan Forrest also appeared in seven games last season and finished with a 5.62 earned run average in 16 innings pitched.
Pitching depth poses the most concern and questions for South Lakes in 2012. The loss of Beaulac will force Morris to depend on younger, inexperienced pitchers like Josh Forrest and Lear. But if their transition to pitching at the varsity level is smooth and fairly easy, the Seahawks could be competitive in Liberty District play.
“Our goal is to win a district championship and make the regional tournament. Our ultimate goal is to win the regional tournament,” said Morris.
For SLHS' baseball schedule, click here.