Harlem hopes to ride pitching to championship

By Matt Nestor
Sports Columnist

Harlem coach Doug Livingston has a lot of unknowns coming into the season.

He has a large, talented junior class coming in to compete for jobs. He’s not sure what his lineup will look like. He’s not sure how much hitting his team will have.

But one thing is for sure: the Huskies’ starting pitching will be as good as anyone else’s in the conference.

Harlem has a great 1-2 punch in the rotation. They return all-conference pitchers and seniors Johnny Lieske, who is going to Illinois State University next year, if he is not drafted, as well as Bo Andrews, who is going to pitch for Northern Illinois University next year.

Those two, as well as three-year starter and fellow all-conference shortstop Keenan Kellett, give Harlem a core group of leaders as good as anyone else has to offer.

“We’re looking forward to this year,” Livingston said. “We have three kids who are seniors who have been with me since their sophomore year. They are the ones people are looking at as our leaders. With those three back, it makes a good core for us to start with.”

Livingston said the key for the Huskies could lie within his junior class. The team will feature 10 juniors who Livingston hopes will lift this team to its full potential.

“We have a hard-working junior class,” he said. “Our junior class really likes the game. If a few of them emerge to become good hitters for us, then I think we have as good a shot as anybody to win the conference.”

Offense could admittedly be a struggle, according to Livingston. He doesn’t think his team will have a lot of power. But he doesn’t feel that is necessary for the Huskies to be competitive.

“Our strength is our defense and our pitching. If we can find some hitting, I think we’re as good as anyone in the conference,” he said. “You put the pressure on them by putting the ball in play and by bunting. By putting the ball in play and getting on base, a lot of things will turn out favorable by putting the pressure on them.”

From the March 24-30, 2010 issue

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