Panthers performing well on diamond this spring
By C.R. Cumbee
Lake City—Lake City baseball coach Matt Apicella knew he had the makings of a quality ball club, but the Panthers have made the results pay off on the field early on this spring. Lake City is 9-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play as region schedule reaches the halfway point.
“There’s a lot of stuff we still need to clean up. We need to find more consistency, especially offensively. Baseball is a streaky game so we need to stabilize more at the plate. The pitching and defense has been great so far and the kids are playing hard. That’s the one thing we can guarantee,” Apicella said.
Pitcher/infielder Nate Bright has been outstanding for the Panthers this year. The senior is hitting .441 with 11 runs batted in and 13 stolen bases while going 4-0 on the mound with a 1.08 earned run average and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.
Keenan Graham is 3-0 on the bump with a 1.57 ERA while still getting into baseball condition after a long wrestling season. Third baseman Chris Burnett has been another option at pitcher, going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He is also batting .333 this spring.
Also doing a solid job at the plate is shortstop Bill Hanna, who boasts a .323 average with 11 RBI. Outfielder Jalen Barr is hitting .382 with a home run and 13 stolen bases, and catcher Molik Brown has swiped 10 bags as well.
“The guys that we expected to have big seasons have done that, but it’s been good to see other kids like Terquan Rush, Jerrick Nesbitt and Molik Brown have solid seasons. It’s been a total team effort and these guys have played selfless. Everybody’s willing to be a piece of the puzzle,” Apicella said.
Although the Panthers are in a good spot now, they must remain focused every day as they try to capture that elusive conference championship. Lake City faces Georgetown, Dillon and Loris before competing in a tournament over spring break.
“In this region, anybody can beat anybody else on any given night. It’s whoever blinks first. Every region game has been a battle and I expect that all the way through,” Apicella said.