Stepping up: 4 returning varsity senior baseball players attempt to do what 14 did last year — lead a team to State

Jordan McEntee, Design editor

Success.

Tradition.

Leadership.

These are just a few of the qualities found in BV’s baseball program.

The 2010 varsity team, which included 14 seniors, won the class 6A State Championship.

“Last year we had a very talented group,” baseball coach Matt Ortman said. “They got on a roll at the right time at the end of the season and essentially walked through the state tournament.”

Ortman said the team looks up to the four returning varsity seniors: Landon Lucansky, Brent Mason, Bryant Reber and Trent Sullivan.

“They were all with us at the end of last year and have all taken over leadership roles,” he said. “Lots of seniors have stepped up — it’s awesome how they’re leaders in practicing and working hard.”

Mason said the senior leaders encourage the team to play to its potential by treating each other respectfully.

“The fact that we were on varsity last year has made us really step up,” Mason said. “We try to motivate everybody to go hard and to get better. And we try to not make it seem like we’re above them. Everyone treats each other like we’re all on the same level.”

Mason said the team’s chemistry is one of the biggest differences from last year’s squad.

“Everybody fits in very well,” he said. “You don’t see different groups out there — we’re all together.”

Ortman said the team will be strong due to the preparation and high potential of the younger players.

“I wouldn’t really consider this a rebuilding season because we have a lot of guys who have been ready for the varsity level, but now they get their shot,” he said. “I expect to continue the type of success we’ve had.”

Because so many players from the 2010 team graduated, Mason said it is now time for a new group of guys to take over.

“Last year, since we had mostly all seniors, I kind of had to sit back and let the older guys take charge,” he said. “But now the younger guys are definitely stepping up. In baseball, you have to be able to make the plays no matter how old you are.”

After losing last year’s starting pitcher Ryne Stanek, who turned down a third round MLB draft pick to the Seattle Mariners to attend University of Arkansas, the Tigers had a big role to fill.

“Pitching is a big key in baseball,” Mason said. “But if you can just throw strikes, that’s good in my book. Ryne had an overpowering fastball, but now we have Hayden [Edwards] and Evan [Bell], who are both really strong. So I don’t think it will affect us as much as people anticipated.”

Ortman said he has high expectations for the season, beginning with intensity and improvement at practice.

“My biggest hope is that we continue practicing hard and getting better everyday,” Ortman said. “Daily, we strive to get better. If we do that, success on the field and wins will come along with it.”

Mason said the team hopes to bring home another State Championship for BV.

“We’re actually counting on it — not to sound arrogant or anything,” he said. “Everybody’s goal is to win. If we continue to work hard, everything will fall into place.”