Head coach John Fulkerson is optimistic in the talent that he has in his returners and the ability they have to build off of their experience. According to Fulkerson, he is excited to see what center fielder Isaiah Frank and right fielder Morris Ellison are going to bring defensively. From the mound, the Lions are able to rely on Dave Patel, who is not only able to produce as a leading pitcher, but also able to fill in at shortstop or second base when needed.
Returning to third base this year is an experienced Garrett Voyles, who is also a double threat in his capability as a starting pitcher in the Lithia rotation as well.
Although the Lions lost several strong defensive players after last season, Fulkerson said that sophomore Tyler Walker and junior Alec Hopkins are doing tremendous work to fill in the gaps that were left vacant.
“Right now, we have several people playing different positions due to who is pitching at the time”, said Fulkerson. “We have a lot of guys that are doing some good things, but when put in game situations in what is an unfamiliar position, we sometimes make errors.”
Although record wise the the team is not off to the best start, Fulkerson knows that it is still early and the Lions definitely have a chance to improve and get more wins under their belt. Looking at their first few outings, Fulkerson feels that their problems are fixable and plans to just get them back to focusing on the basics of baseball.
Offensively, the Lions have several strong bats on their side, especially behind Frank who is hitting third in the line-up and has an average around .500. Hitting clean-up, Ellison is also starting 2013 with a solo homerun under his belt in his first swing against Chapel Hill.
Like many other schools around the county, Lithia moved into a new region this year, which means facing unfamiliar competition. This season, the Lions will face several strong Cobb and Paulding county teams, along with Rome, Woodland and Villa Rica.
“Baseball is baseball and although we have some strong competition this year, I tell my team that anyone can go out there and win”, said Fulkerson. “It is going to be tough, but if you are good enough to win a region like this, I think you have a shot to go pretty far in state.”
Fulkerson stated that they are still in a building process, but he feels that Lithia definitely has a chance to be competitive within their new region. He also knows that once his squad gets another win under their belt that it will help with building more confidence on the field.
“This is definitely what the joy of coaching is”, said Fulkerson. “Each year you get new guys and have the opportunity to help develop winners. We have work to do, but I think it is going to be a good season and we are going to have fun doing it.”