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New season, new spirit, with faith in Pope and Cross

Andrew Giermak

Coming off a tough season in the district last year and having only three returning starters from that 2005 squad should add up to a pessimistic combination for Lakeland baseball coach Jason Wollerton.

His Cavalier team, with a reenergized attitude, has him excited and optimistic though as his Cavaliers start their 2006 baseball campaign this evening at Nansemond River.

Prior to Lakeland scrimmaging against Harrisonburg and Heritage at Nansemond River Saturday morning, Wollerton said, &uot;this team is a totally different team than last season.&uot;

That’s true for the new faces in the usual starting nine, but more importantly to Wollerton, it’s also true for the way his club is going about business even before playing their first regular season game.

&uot;We’re very excited because of the way practice has gone everyday for the last three weeks.

&uot;The kids are a lot more focused and taking every day as a chance to get better,&uot; said Wollerton.

Even with few returning veterans, the Cavaliers do have good on-the-field leadership, in the form of seniors Daniel Cross and Grey Pope.

Cross and Pope will be Lakeland’s main arms on the mound and two of the key producers at the plate.

When not on the hill, Pope plays first base and Cross will be the regular shortstop.

Cross led off the Cavalier batting order Saturday morning and Pope will be the big power source for Lakeland as he hit clean-up last year and will be there again.

Both senior Cavs are already set to continue their baseball careers following graduation.

Cross is committed to Bloomfield College (N. J.) and Pope is committed to play at Louisburg J. C. (N. C.).

Even before an official game has been played, Wollerton is ready because his charges have been showing him that they are ready.

&uot;They have a desire to work, they want to win and they have been very coachable.

This is probably the most excited I’ve been in my six years at Lakeland.&uot;

The rivalry game between the Cavs and Warriors starts the regular season for both clubs, the first pitch at NR will be at 5:15 p.m.

Lakeland’s home opener is set for 5:30 p.m. Friday with Oscar Smith as the visitor.

Lakeland’s nine will also have home dates the following two Friday evenings.

On Mar. 24, Western Branch visits the Cavaliers; and on Mar. 31, Lakeland hosts Indian River.

Both contests start at 5:30 p.m.