By Moses Leos III
It all seemed like a bad nightmare last April 28 for Lehman head baseball coach Toby Robinson and his Lobo ball club.
With a playoff berth a win away, Lehman ran into a red-hot Kerrville Tivy team that brought their playoff hopes to an end.
But a new year brings new possibilities. A fresh start in a new district awaits the Lobos.
And while the Lobos missed out last year, junior Luis Jimenez hopes to bring a reversal of fortune in 2015.
“Last year, being so close to actually getting into the playoffs, it gives us a lot of motivation this year,” Jimenez said.
Seven players return from last year’s squad, guided by an experienced senior class.
Senior Micah Tambur leads a Lehman bullpen that aims to fill the gap left by Justin Penney.
Helping Tambur on the mound will be Josh Valdez, who fluctuated between varsity and junior varsity, and Ryan Castillo, who pitched at times last season.
Behind them will be defense that returns several players, including outfielder Josh Turk and infielder Jesse Garcia.
Tambur said he plans to pitch aggressively on the mound, while having his defense help him.
“We are going to have a very solid defense, very hands on,” Tambur said. He went on to add that the team must execute defensively to be successful.
It’s on offense where the Lobos hold much of their experience. Jimenez, who batted .400 last year, leads a Lobo offense that had a xxxx batting average in 2014. He said a continued approach to attack early in counts will be the focus.
Speed on the basepaths is a new element the Lobos hope to take advantage of. Jimenez said an aggressive stance, which includes playing “small ball” more often is a goal.
“We have a lot more speed than we’ve ever had,” Tambur said. “We are going to cause some havoc on the basepaths. We’ll see where it goes from there.”
A shifting district landscape will provide challenges for the Lobos. With 16 games in 14-6A play, Lehman can only participate in two non-district tournaments.
However, moving from 4A to 6A doesn’t worry the Lobos. Tambur said the Lobos’ new district is equally competitive as 27-4A was last season.
Robinson agreed, saying the competition Lehman faced in the past two years will prepare them for 6A ball.
“Last year’s competition (was) on the same level, and it will help us compete every night,” he said. “We aren’t worried about nothing.”
Lehman begins the season by participating in the Gaylord Fenley Invitiational Tournament at Alamo Heights on Feb. 27.