Scrappy Lions looking for return to postseason


By Kyle Mooty

LPR Editor

San Juan Arias said at his introductory press conference after being named the new head coach of the Lockhart High School baseball team last summer that he wanted the Lions to continue their momentum of qualifying for the state playoffs, which they did in back-to-back seasons last year for the first time in 54 years.

The Lions will have to do so this year by scrapping for each and every run and out.

The LHS pitching staff is young, throws strikes, but is not overpowering. The offense has speed, but it won’t rely much on power.

Lockhart opened the new season under Arias on Tuesday evening (after press time for the Post-Register) at San Antonio TMI Episcopal.

Offensively, Lockhart possesses good team speed, something of which Arias hopes to take advantage.

“We’ll steal, hit-and-run, bunt-and-run, be quick thinking and reactive,” Arias said. “We need to put the ball in play and beat out ground balls and turn singles into doubles.”

The Lions only have two senior pitchers in RJ Torres and Hunter Dunn.

“Neither of them pitched last year due to injuries,” Arias said. “We’re going to count on them to get us a lot of innings.”

The Lions are also expecting Nick Ogeda (junior) and Gage Deutsch (sophomore) to be starters.

“They all have a good presence on the mound,” Arias said. “They attack the strikezone and can all throw strikes, which is what you hope for. They’re not going to be overpowering. We just have to play good defense behind them.

“I plan on using a lot each game. Not being a power pitching team, we’ll pitch by committee and rely on everybody.”

Others that will see time on the mound include brothers Weston (sophomore) and Waylon Phillips (freshman), and Santiago Guerra (sophomore).

Senior Evan Schuelke will be the Lions’ catcher. The homeschooler has provided leadership for Arias and has good athleticism. “He has that presence about him,” said the coach.

The rest of the infield will include sophomore Ethan Mendez at first base, Luis Flores (senior) at second, Deutsch and Ogeda at shortstop, and Guerra and Torres at third.

Torres is still wearing a knee brace after tearing an ACL last year.

The outfield will likely be junior Jacob Whisenant in left, junior Guiovanni Vasquez in center, and Waylon Phillips, a freshman, in right.

Arias plans on using different players as designated hitters, including Torres, senior Tanner Castillo, and sophomore Austin Rodriguez.

Leander Rouse will be the team to beat in District 25 as the Raiders are ranked No. 9 in Class 5A in preseason.

“I told the boys there’s no looking at any team we see that we can automatically double them up,” Arias said. “We’ve got to do the fundamentals to win.”

Arias spent the previous four seasons as the head coach at Nixon-Smiley High School, where his team made three playoff appearances.

A former first base standout at Texas Lutheran, Arias earned several honors for the Bulldogs, including 1st Team All-Independent, 2nd Team All-West Division, and 2nd Team All-Region. He graduated from the Seguin college with a major in Exercise Science. One son plays baseball at Harding University in Arkansas. A daughter, Rhea, passed away in November at the age of 13 after suffering serious injuries in a car accident at the age of 2.


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