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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Lager: LV baseball won't forget '13 seniors

  • Four years ago, Leavenworth baseball didn't have the most impressive reputation.
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  • Four years ago, Leavenworth baseball didn't have the most impressive reputation.
    In fact, it had none.
    Consistent losing had dragged the team down and though the program was still pumping out quality student-athletes, which is the most important objective of any high school squad, it wasn't winning.
    High school sports are played to win and for several reasons, Leavenworth simply was struggling to do so on the baseball diamond.
    Marred in a seemingly-endless cycle, wherein the team failed to claim a conference or regional title for more than 11 years, losing became customary.
    That is until five years ago. In 2008 the program's biggest change took place — the hiring of head coach Joe Allison.
    In that first season, Allison drove his players to work harder than ever. He wanted them to do more than anyone else and though not many wins came, one major transformation did take place — accountability.
    The coach made his players learn to hold themselves accountable for their play on the field, as well as their actions off, to the point that it built a sense of self-worth.
    He was growing confidence in his players and putting pride back in the uniforms that blazed across their chest.
    And it worked.
    Look no further than the senior class of 2013 to see the results, especially its three captains: Michael Baillergeon, Eli Keppler and Judson Cole.
    That trio, along with Zach Harris, Billy Harrah and Matt Hanson, completely bought into Allison's ways and because of that they were able to pull Leavenworth baseball out of its dark age.
    In 2011, the then sophomores helped push LV past heavily favored Lawrence Free State to claim its first regional championship and state bid in 12 years.
    During their junior years, Cole, Keppler and Baillergeon received all-league and all-state honors while at the same time accumulating one of the best records Leavenworth has had since the late 1990s.
    And then this past senior campaign, the now LV graduates came up one-run short of returning to state and saw all three of their captains receive first-team, all-league recognition.
    On top of that, Baillergeon was named the Class 5A State Player of the Year, a first in school history.
    "To join a program from day one as a freshmen and produce at the highly competitive level in the league that we play in is outstanding," Allison said of the trio. "I have leaned on these three guys for four years now and they have brought respect back to our program. For that I owe them my thanks and gratitude.
    "They are three fine young men that will continue to be successful and who's success in our program will always be remembered."
    Page 2 of 2 - Before the class of 2013, Pioneer baseball had lost its way. Since the class of 2013, the program is back to winning and perhaps, more importantly, reclaimed its reputation — LV pride.
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