Baseball eyes redemption in offseason

After an unceremonious ending to the 2012 season, the Lions look to settle unfinished business without a couple of key names in the lineup card: Brock Hebert and Jonathan Pace. Hebert, who hit .374 and stole 36 bases last year, decided to forgo his senior season and headed for the greener pastures of Major League Baseball, inking a deal with the Seattle Mariners. Pace managed a .350 average last year with 42 RBI, and exhausted his eligibility in the spring.
While several key pieces moved on, the Lions return Conference Freshman of the Year Andro Cutura, along with senior starting pitchers Buck Bernard and Jordan Hymel.  For Hymel, this season’s about helping the team in any way possible.
“I just want to make sure I stay healthy and get a bunch of innings in,” said Hymel. “I’d like to get my arm back in shape from last year. That’s about it though. Just making sure I stay healthy is the main thing.”
Hymel posted a 6-3 record with a 2.65 ERA in 2012, proving to be the workhorse the Lions desperately needed last year to eat up innings. Hymel and Cutura logged 158 innings, working their way to the top of head coach Jay Artigues’ pitching rotation.
For Hymel, the leadership role is nothing new.
“It’s not really different,” said Hymel. “Every time I come here I always think of myself as a leader. I lead by my actions, both on and off the field. It’s a big responsibility, but I look forward to it.”
At the plate, head coach Jay Artigues chose two junior college transfers in Aaron Haag and Vito Perna, Jr. as possible replacements for Pace at first base. Haag hit .413 with 10 homeruns last year for Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, and adds a power bat to what was last year an anemic lineup.
The freshman class includes several players that can play multiple positions, including outfielder/pitcher Kyle Cedotal, catcher/infielder Jameson Fisher and infielder/outfielder Ryan Byers.
Hymel noted that while he’s approaching a few personal records, his focus is still on the team as a whole.
“We need to win a conference championship, get into a regional,” Hymel said. “I’m only a few wins away from the all-time record, so I’d like to break that, but the main goal is team first, and that’s to get to a regional.”