High School Baseball

Lafayette baseball team gets an 'A' in chemistry

Lafayette baseball practice on Tuesday February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff
Lafayette baseball practice on Tuesday February 7, 2012 in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

When Lafayette's baseball players set a goal in the pre-season of going 5-3 in the power-packed 43rd District, Coach Chris Langston appreciated their spunk but wondered about their sanity.

"I told my coaches, at least they're dreamers," Langston recalled.

Dreamers and achievers.

Lafayette beat host Lexington Christian 7-0 Tuesday night to finish 5-3 in the district and earn at least the No. 2 seed for the post-season tournament.

The Generals (19-8), No. 25 in the state, split regular-season games in district play against No. 6 Tates Creek and No. 8 Lexington Catholic, and swept No. 12 Paul Laurence Dunbar. Tuesday's win gave them a split against LCA.

Not bad for a relatively inexperienced team that Langston knew faced a steep learning curve this spring.

But Langston never doubted his team's chemistry.

"That's made it easier for them, because they've had to rely on each other to grind through it," he said. "I'm very proud of them."

Senior outfielder Darius Hughes, the team's emotional leader, said he was confident from the outset "that we could put our trust in each other and be able to accomplish this."

Senior second baseman Graham Carmack echoed those feelings.

"If you like the guys you're playing with, it's a lot more fun. Baseball is about having fun, and when you're having fun you play better.

"I'll be the first to say we don't have the most talent in this district, but chemistry has played a big part in most of our wins, especially in the district."

Solid pitching has been a key ingredient, too. The Generals' team ERA is 2.39. Seniors Josh Dunn (3-3, 1.98) and Lucas McAvoy (3-0, 1.75), junior Jack Noftsger (5-1, 2.85) and sophomore Brandon Calia (3-2, 1.17) have led a solid rotation.

Langston credits senior catcher Matt Trimble for steadying a staff that, except for Dunn, didn't work a lot of innings last season.

Dunn, who plays first base when he's not on the mound, has been one of Lafayette's most consistent hitters, too.

Trimble has been reliable at the plate, along with Carmack, senior infielders Lucas Williams and Austin Messner, and sophomore shortstop Ben Eckert.

Lafayette has a small-ball offense. The Generals have hit one home run all season, and it came during spring break in Florida.

"We don't hit a lot of doubles or triples either," Langston said. "That's why we talk about being aggressive on the bases. We've really started to take off on that the last couple weeks."

Small ball is only successful when guys don't try to do too much, but instead support each other.

Lafayette gets that.

"We try to live by the motto 'We're our brother's keeper' every day," Dunn said. "Whenever someone gets down, gets out or makes a bad play, a teammate's always there to pick him up.

"If we come together and do the small-ball stuff, we know we can beat anybody in the state. It's all about having faith in your teammates."

The Generals set another lofty goal in the pre-season: make it to the 11th Region for the first time since 2006.

They hope to prove again that they're not only dreamers, but achievers, too.