Prep Baseball: Ledford needs more offense to compete for MPC crown
While the weather clings to winter temperatures, Ledford is hotly contesting a conference title this spring on the baseball diamond.
Down N.C. Highway 109 in Wallburg, there were plenty of uncertainties as to what direction the Panthers would go this season. They lost a host of starters due to graduation, leaving it to younger, unproven players to step in and be productive. The learning curve has been sharp and frustrating at times, but the Panthers find themselves in the thick of a Mid-Piedmont Conference race for the top spot.
LHS is 3-1, one game back of league-leading Northeast Guilford. The Rams are the only team to have beaten the Panthers, needing a run in the seventh inning to take hold of the top.
“Our conference is wide open this season,” said skipper Kemp Smith. “Northeast Guilford is 4-0, but we had that 1-0 loss to them and we could easily be up there. It is going to be a tight race.”
Pitching has been the strong suit of the Panthers in 2013. The staff has a sparkling 1.47 ERA, led by senior hurler Duke Boger and his 0.83 average. He has picked up three of the six Ledford wins, striking out 27 in 25 innings or work. Ryan Trudniak, Michael Horrell and Bubba White have the other victories.
“If you look at our stats you cannot argue about our pitching,” said Smith. “The pitchers have been keeping us in it thus far. Duke is pitching for us next Tuesday against a good Asheboro team. Anytime he is pitching we feel like we are going to be in the game.”
Where the Panthers seek the most improvement comes at the dish. Offense has been their Achilles heel and will need significant improvement if LHS is going to stay in contact in the MPC race. They bat .239 as a team, and have been shutout three times. Scoring only 43 runs on the year, they hold an average of 3.9 runs per game. Horrell leads the team with a .368 average and Austin Stilley hits .360.
“Our last conference game we had seven runs so I guess you could call that an offensive explosion,” joked Smith. “If we could just somehow get some offense to go with that pitching, we could be in really good shape.”
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.