SIBLEY – Great expectations are nothing new for the Lakeside Warriors, a household name in the Louisiana baseball discussion.
But the past three years have ended in first-round, playoff losses for the Warriors, something Lakeside isn’t accustomed to.
This year’s team looks to buck the trend and make a deep postseason run, and with the players they have returning in 2016, a state championship isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
“Most of the guys we have back this year have started three or four years,” Lakeside head coach Will Gray said. “It’s a pretty good makeup; a group of guys who have been playing together for a pretty long time.”
That group includes seniors Tanner Page and Josh Prince.
“Josh is one of our better hitters,” Gray said. “He’ll do some pitching for us as well. Tanner is a multiple-year starter as well.”
Juniors Brayden Jones, Jake Gray and Cameron Gray make up a solid junior class.
“Cameron is our pitcher,” Will Gray said. “He’s the guy who when the game is on the line, he’s going to be on the mound. Jake is our catcher and one of our best hitters and Brayden Jones is a guy who will play all over the field for us.”
Coach Gray pointed to pitching and defense as areas he views as strengths going into the season.
“I think we’re going to have to win games on the mound,” Gray said. “I think that’s our strong point. We should swing the bats well, but pitching and defense are going to be our deal.”
The Warriors are a motivated bunch in 2016, ready to end the dreaded playoff losing streak.
“Our guys have made it their goal that that’s not going to happen this year,” Gray said. “They worked extremely hard this summer, one of the hardest summers we’ve had. They want to be in the tournament, that’s their goal and it’s mine too.
“Some things happened last year that they know we can change. I think they looked at themselves and said ‘I can be better.’”
The Warriors should be the district favorites in 1-2A, along with Calvary Baptist Academy. North Caddo should be much improved and district newcomer Jonesboro-Hodge will be a surprise one way or another.
Lakeside will scrimmage Airline this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Bossier City in their first live action of the season.