Despite pitching questions, Nelson baseball aimed for continuing success

Posted Monday, Aug. 05, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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This spring will be one of the first real turning points in the history of the Byron Nelson baseball program.

Nelson graduated many of the seniors who were founders of the program this past spring, carrying with them the majority of innings of experience in the varsity program’s third year of existence.

A year after Nelson made its best playoff run, a berth into the regional quarterfinals of the 4A state playoffs, Nelson head coach Mike Killian has many holes to fill, especially in the ranks of pitching.

However, in a season that will see a lot of new faces under Nelson baseball hats, Killian is in one of the best districts for his situation.

“The district itself graduated heavily, and I like our chances going into it,” he said.

Yes, he graduated more than most the teams in District 5-4A. Several of the teams do return impact veterans. But overall, Killian believes this edition of the district will be young and exciting.

Holding down the fort for Nelson are two seniors, infielder Reed Sherman and corner outfielder Chase Collins, who now are the most veteran and experienced players on the squad, Killian said.

Both were .300 hitters from the left side of the plate and demonstrated strengths in many of the remaining baseball “tools.”

“I’m looking forward to them to really carry over the success they had last year,” Killian said. “Both of them had outstanding years as juniors and I’m looking to them to really provide a lot of senior leadership.”

The task at hand for Killian is to develop and identify a pitching staff for the spring out of a group of successful JV pitchers and a couple of rising seniors with some time on the varsity squad last year.

“The three starters that we ran with last year, especially in district, all three graduated,” Killian said. “All three threw more innings than anyone in the history of the program. That’s going to be a big question mark for us.”

Leading the charge of those returners is Alex Johnson and Kevin Lentzner, who enter their senior seasons. Also, they will have some support from sophomore Gabe Luna, who can both pitch and play shortstop for Nelson. He saw significant playing time last season as a freshman.

“We need to have them step up and help us out a bunch,” Killian said.

The program is young and this year’s team will be equally as young, but rolling off the momentum and great early success the program has seen in the past several years, Killian believes this new set of Bobcats will answer the call.

“I like our outlook,” Killian said.

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