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Lakewood captain talks baseball

Mar. 18—It was quite the day for some baseball when the Independent found it's way to Lakewood. The scene was serene with country music blaring in the background with the player warming up, standing parallel to one another tossing the ball back and forth. A young, tall statured man ran up to get his interview after coach Austin Tanner called him over.

The young player was an imposing figure towering the reporter, but had a soft spoken, humble demeanor, repping the Lakewood baseball team with hopes to bring glory back to their baseball team. Junior Captain Landon Neal is poised to take the helm and lead the Leopards on the diamond.

The dual positioned player has high hopes for his squad despite the slow start to the season, he holds tough standards for the Leopards. Playing first baseman, the novice might assume that's a relatively easy position, standing there waiting for the put out throw but he spoke of the complexity, how throws can come from various positions and the team relies on his reaction to get that out.

He praised his team for the efforts but mentioned the struggle of throwing to his chest, a mainstay of any first baseman trying to get that crucial out in a do or die situation. He spoke about his role to light a fire under their tails to coax them, never doubting their abilities but motivating them is a challenge he takes on personally. He spoke on how he can aid in bringing Lakewood the baseball team they are looking for.

Between roles as pitcher and baseman he admitted it's game to game, regarding his favorite position, whether it be the umpire calling or throws to him at the first base. Regardless, he gives his all to the team, in hopes of bringing glory to the Lakewood diamond. He spoke briefly about his squad and what he hopes Lakewood will become this season.

"Just getting on their butts, they are good guys and they'll work, but sometimes they just need a fire lit under their tails at times. Heath Britt (senior team captain) and I are captains and we'll keep pushing them, and eventually get that team that Lakewood deserves."

He understood that sometimes the umpire doesn't make the calls you hope but he continually tries to get that result. The Leopards are vying for a better record than they had last season and he remains confident that they can, under his and Britt's leadership.

Reach Anthony McConnaughey at amcconnaughey@clintonnc.com, X @SampsonSports or on the Sampson Independent Facebook page