Batter Up!

Baseball season is coming to a start.


While unexpected snowfall currently insists on continuing through March in North Idaho, the Lakeland Hawks baseball team has been assembled and anxiously awaiting their first game of the 2023 season. Led by star senior duo Garrett Love and Blaze Day, coach Jason Bradbury’s team has an interesting roster.
“We have a young, talented team. If everyone does their job, we can make it to state,” said junior Reilly Saxe.
The team is much younger than in previous years and is highly inexperienced at the varsity level. However, there is not a player on the team that cannot hit for a .300 average. It will be interesting to see how the depth chart fills out in the coming weeks.
While this team’s size and skill range is unorthodox and unusual, the depth chart is loaded with potential. Pitching is lacking, but there is not a player in the lineup that can not hit at an elite level. In an attempt to stack the roster with pitchers, the varsity team has 16 players.
“Not a lot of our players have varsity experience, so it will take some time to get into the groove of things,” said Love. “It may take us a while to reach our potential, but we will definitely have it figured out at some point in the middle of the season.”
Last season, Lakeland played well in league games but was unsuccessful in battling its way into the state playoffs. This year, the 4A IEL title is up for grabs, and there is no clear preseason favorite.
Moscow and Sandpoint struggled against Lakeland pitching in the regular season in 2022 but got back at the Hawks in districts. Lakeland looks to make state on the backs of their powerful offense. Lakeland has not made it to state since the 2018-19 season.
The 2023 roster features two freshmen, Jace Taylor and Eric Wylie. Returning varsity players are Love, Day, Jace Cooksey, Roan Reilly, Raiston Ellwood, Tadhg Ellwood, and Hans Pluid.
“I am anxious for our league games and hope to win the league,” said Tadhg Ellwood. “I am excited about my first trip to Boise with the team. It will be fun to play with my brother Raiston in the outfield. I am looking forward to seeing our team’s bats.”
The Hawks went 4-16 last season but are expecting less competition in 2023. The Hawk’s first game was supposed to be on March 11 against the Lake City Timberwolves but was postponed due to weather. Gorton Field is currently covered in snow, and Lake City’s field was likely not any better. The Hawk’s second game is set to be on March 18 against Lakeside at 2 p.m. If the game is not played, the Hawks will kick off their regular season in Boise for their yearly spring break tournament.
“I am looking forward to growing team chemistry,” Love added. “Playing on my senior night will be a big moment for me. I remember being a sophomore looking up to the seniors like Cole Strietzel and Carson Seay. It is cool to be in that position now.”