For young Lions, good things are sure to come

March 17, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

The numbers jump out:

Fourteen freshmen, nine sophomores, one junior and three seniors.

That's what Liberty coach Bob Burger and his staff is working with as the Lions prepare for the coming season -- and the ones to follow. Burger hasn't divided his varsity and B squads yet, but one thing is certain: the varsity will be very young.

Only four regulars are back from last year's squad. The handful of others filling out the varsity roster is not set, but Burger is very high on his talented, young group.

"This is the best quality of ninth-grade athletes we've had since this school first opened," he said.

"They're also good people and very coachable. Everything is looking positive and forward."

Heather Lee and Robin Leeds are the only seniors with regular playing time returning. Fellow senior Nicole Childress was called up to varsity late last year and will start at shortstop this season.

Lee was expected to anchor the outfield in center, but will have to take the mound instead with sophomore pitcher Charlene Rice still recovering from knee surgery. Rice is expected to return sometimes during the season, but Burger isn't sure when. "Having to use Heather at pitcher hurts us in two spots. We were counting on her in center, but now need her to pitch. Getting Charlene back will strengthen us," Burger said.

Leeds is back at second. She has a steady glove and is a good contact hitter who will get on base a lot. A pair of sophomores also return in catcher Kim Robinson and first baseman Jessica Horneman -- both will be counted on to drive in runs. All the other starting spots are up for grabs and Burger has a bunch of young players eager to take advantage.

"Jessie Horneman, Kim Robinson and Heather are all hitting the ball very well and there's a bunch of young players banging the ball pretty good, too," Burger said.

"We're working very hard on our hitting and other fundamentals. We have a lot of young, solid athletes."

The Lions obviously have a lot of areas that need to be filled. Lost to graduation is first-team all-county performer Amy Wolff and her .444 batting average, along with honorable-mention selections Andrea Dixon, a pitcher, and infielder Laura Veise.

The inexperience will probably show early, but Burger expects a competitive team that will improve as the season progresses.

"From a coaches' standpoint, this is very exciting," he said. "We're playing to win, wanting to learn the game and looking to be a good representative of our school."

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