More often than not, Lexington Christian Academy earns an A+ when it comes to All "A" baseball.
The Eagles' history in the small-school tournament includes state titles in 2009, 2010 and 2012, and a state runner-up in 2004.
LCA passed this week's 11th Region All "A" tournament with flying colors. After sailing by Sayre 15-1 in Thursday's semifinals, the Eagles soared by Berea 14-0 in Friday's finals.
LCA still must win a sectional game to earn a spot in the Touchstone Energy All "A" state tournament at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Derby weekend.
Senior Cody Kalinowski said he was so accustomed to success in the All "A" that when the Eagles lost to Danville in the sectional last year, "it was heart-breaking."
LCA, which has been up-and-down this spring — as its 8-7 record attests — is hoping its showing against Sayre and Berea will jump-start its confidence.
"We put up 29 runs the last two games. That's pretty impressive for anyone against any team," Kalinowski said.
Junior shortstop Robbie Stephens said he liked the way the Eagles "stayed up the whole game in the dugout" against Berea, "competing on every pitch. That builds confidence, and we need that kind of confidence when we get in district games."
LCA made quick work of Berea. The Eagles' first nine batters scored, with Drew Schacht, Kalinowski, Lincoln Henzman, Andrew Barker and Frederick Rupp collecting hits. Berea helped fuel the big inning by committing four errors.
Aaron Miley, Mason Walker and John Stein combined to throw a five-inning shutout.
LCA Coach Keith Galloway also hopes his team can parlay its All "A" victories into better play in the 43rd District.
"We haven't had much success in our district the last several years, and this bunch has to realize they can compete and win those type of games," he said.
"What we're really looking for is to be more relaxed and confident no matter who we're playing."
Galloway has been pleased with his pitching staff so far, while ace Henzman continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery.
Galloway credited Schacht, Kalinowski, Miley and Connor Milslage for giving the Eagles quality starts.
LCA's offense has been sparked by leadoff man Schacht, along with Stephens and Barker. Kalinowski and Henzman have had some bad luck at the plate.
"Cody and Lincoln have both had their share of 'at-em' balls, so their averages don't look as good as they've hit," Galloway said.
LCA's mental approach to the game the rest of the season will be as important as hitting, pitching and defense.
"We're trying to emphasize unity, intensity and enthusiasm every day, and coming out like we know we're a good team," Stephens said.
"We have a lot of talent and experience, and we need to start playing like it."
Lexington Christian 920 30—14 10 0
Berea 000 00x—0 3 8
Aaron Miley, Mason Walker (4), John Stein (5) and Graham Smith, Hunter Wills (4). Sean Long, Daniel Wilkerson (1) and Jared Kilgore. 2B--Lincoln Henzman (LCA), Frederick Rupp (LCA), Connor Milslagle (LCA).
Records--LCA 8-7; Berea 6-7.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com