New season brings new hope for Lowcountry Heat

May 25, 2010 

Members of the Lowcountry Heat American Legion baseball team, including Zac Lenns, center, limber up before the start of practice on Sunday at Hilton Head High.

JAY KARR

Last summer provided a season to forget for the Lowcountry Heat. With the changeover of nearly two-thirds of the team's roster heading into tonight's season opener, that's exactly what it has become -- forgotten.

The American Legion baseball team will look to improve on last year's one-win season and officially make it a lesson learned from the past, beginning tonight when it hosts Goose Creek at 7 p.m. at Hilton Head High's baseball complex.

"We have more talent this year. There's no doubt about that," said coach Chris Wells, who enters his second year with the Heat. "... But it's small steps. We were 1-15 last year, so we're just looking to compete this year."

The expectations are certainly higher a year later, especially considering the team's roster includes players that have become accustomed to winning.

Three Hilton Head Christian seniors -- Zac Lenns, Weston Butler and Devin McGuinness -- have joined the Heat for the summer after capturing the SCISAA Class 3-A earlier this spring. The Heat also has seven players from Region 8-AAA champion Hilton Head High and three more from Bluffton High School, which went 8-2 in the same region.

"We have a lot of kids that aren't used to losing," said Charlie Wilkins, a second baseman from Hilton Head High. "That gives us a better attitude and obviously more confidence. We have a sense of urgency to win."

That urgency fits in with Wells' coaching style, as will the Heat's lineup -- both offensively and defensively. Wells said he expects defense to be his team's greatest strength by midseason.

And although it may not provide many home runs, the offense will include a lot of high-average hitters with high on-base percentages.

"I think this is the best hitting team I've seen in a long time," Wilkins said. "We're a line-drive hitting team. We're going to get a lot of runners on base, and good things happen with guys on base."

The Heat will have the biggest holes to fill on the mound, where its top two starters from a year ago -- USC-Beaufort pitcher Matthew Graney and Hilton Head Prep product Patrick Andrews -- won't return.

Wells said he plans for McGuinness, Hilton Head High's Nic Levy and Bluffton's Ryan Ward to headline the Heat's rotation while a few others can be called on for relief and spot starts.

"We have the best pitcher from Bluffton, the best from Hilton Head (High) and the best from Hilton Head Christian on our roster -- there's three quality arms," Wells said. "But we have some big shoes to fill on the mound.

"Everywhere else on the diamond, I think we're as good or better than we were last year."

LOWCOUNTRY HEAT 2010 SCHEDULE

Today

GOOSE CREEK

7 p.m.

Thursday

WEST ASHLEY

7 p.m.

Friday SAVANNAH CHRISTIAN 7 p.m.

June 1

@ Beaufort

7:30 p.m.

June 3

@ Goose Creek

7 p.m.

June 5

American Legion Showcase

TBA

June 6

American Legion Showcase

TBA

June 8

@ Beaufort

7:30 p.m.

June 10

GOOSE CREEK

7 p.m.

June 11

WEST ASHLEY

7 p.m.

June 14

@ Summerville

7:30 p.m.

June 15

SUMMERVILLE

7:30 p.m.

June 16

@ Goose Creek

7 p.m.

June 17

BEAUFORT

7:30 p.m.

June 22

@ Summerville

7:30 p.m.

June 23

@ West Ashley

7 p.m.

June 24

BEAUFORT

7:30 p.m.

June 25

@ West Ashley

7 p.m.

June 28

SUMMERVILLE

7:30 p.m.

Note: All games are League 1 contests with the exception of Savannah Christian and both dates of the American Legion Showcase, which are doubleheaders in Charleston.

LOWCOUNTRY HEAT 2010 ROSTER

1

Nic Levy

OF/P

HHH

2

Kevin Hickey

IF/P

HHH

3

Weston Butler

IF

HHCA

4

Adam Orischak

OF

HHH

5

Michael Grant

IF

Bluff.

6

Jeff Lauderdale

P

HHH

7

Charlie Wilkins

2B

HHH

8

Zac Lenns

OF/C

HHCA

10

Michael Haven

OF/P

HHH

13

Ryan Ward

P/OF

Bluff.

14

Taylor Place

C

HHP

15

Mike Vaniska

P

HHH

16

Eric Boyles

P/Util

Bluff.

17

Devin McGuinness

IF/P

HHCA

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