High School Baseball

Lafayette baseball trying to field a winner

If Lafayette baseball coach Chris Langston were grading his team 20 games into the season, he'd probably give the Generals' pitching a solid "A" and their hitting a C-plus.

With those kinds of marks, shouldn't Lafayette's record be a little better than 14-6?

Yes, but while the Generals' arms and bats have performed consistently well, their gloves have been a little shaky.

"Our pitching was supposed to be good this season, and it has held up," Langston said. "And our offense has probably overachieved from what we expected.

"But I've been a little disappointed in our defense. We've given up way too many (34) unearned runs.

"We've dropped fly balls and some third strikes, misplayed some ground balls. The confusing thing is, it's been anybody and everybody."

If No. 16 Lafayette can shore up its defense, it could be a factor in the 43rd District and 11th Region tournaments.

When the Generals make the routine plays, they can compete with anybody as they showed in knocking off No. 4 Eastern 5-1 last week.

They've also beaten top-25 foes Manual, Mercer County and Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Strong arms keep Lafayette in most games, especially when seniors Brent Cobb and Connor Asay, and junior Logan Shaftner are on the mound.

"Our pitching usually puts us in good position," Cobb said. "If we get four or five runs, I can't see us losing."

Cobb, Asay and Shaftner all have been throwing for the Generals since they were freshmen, so they have plenty of experience to bank on.

Last year the right-handers combined for 11 victories, and each had an earned run average under 3.80.

This spring they've been even stingier. Cobb (3-2, 1.72 ERA, 1 save), Asay (1-1, 2.21) and Shaftner (3-1, 2.66, 1 save) have helped Lafayette post a team 2.84 ERA.

Left-hander Chris Graves is the set-up reliever; Chad Warner has been a strong closer, and Blake Smith (2-1, 2.33) has been reliable, too.

"This staff is as deep as we've had here," said Langston, who is in his 13th season with the Generals.

Cobb, who's getting looks from Wabash Valley, relies on movement in his fastball to get ground balls.

Asay, who is going to Northwestern Ohio, is a control pitcher. "I just try to hit my spots and get outs," he said.

Shaftner, who beat Eastern, uses his 6-foot-4 frame to generate heat — his fastball hits 86-87 mph.

"All of us have strong arms, and I think our staff is going to keep getting better," he said.

Cobb agreed.

"It's a long season. We've still got room to grow."

Lafayette's offense has been led by senior infielder Tanner Lockard (.472, 19 runs, 15 RBI). "He's been knocking the fire out of it," Langston said.

Jason Fibel (.354), Blake Smith (.353), Johnny Youngblood (.309, 21 runs) and Michael Morton (15 RBI) have also done the job at the plate.

The Generals took a hit last week, though, when senior left fielder Nick Fergerson (.364, 17 runs, 13 RBI) broke his hand while diving for a ball.

In recent years Lafayette has been sometimes overlooked as district rivals Dunbar, Lexington Christian and Lexington Catholic have won state titles, and Tates Creek has been rated in the state's top five.

But Shaftner said the Generals could shake things up this post-season.

"I think we can pull through and win some big-time games," he said. "We've got something to prove."