LC Lions

High school baseball season is over for almost everyone else in Texas, but not for Leverett’s Chapel’s Lions (above), who can clinch a spot in the UIL Class 1A state tournament with a win at 3 p.m. today against Kennard, in a series being played at Rusk High School.

It’s been a long season, and a few high school baseball teams – a very few – still have a chance at a state championship.

One of those few plays just up the road from Kilgore in Laird Hill, the Leverett’s Chapel Lions, and is led by a coaching legend. Ironically, he’s a football coaching legend, leading a baseball team.

Coach Dale Irwin, who led the Arp Tigers football program for many years, came out of retirement to help with LC’s six-man football program at the beginning of the school year, at the behest of LC superintendent and head football coach Matt Everett.

That wound up being a successful move on way more than one front: the Lions had one of their best years, and Irwin has led the school’s baseball program in a revival.

The Lions, who won the District 19-1A championship in the regular season to earn the first-round playoff bye, are playing Kennard today at Rusk High School at 3 p.m. That’s the second game in a best-of-three-game series in the University Interscholastic League’s Class 1A playoffs, the Region 3 finals. LC won game one on Thursday, 6-4.

It’s this simple: if the Lions beat Kennard today at 3, they are going to the UIL state tournament.

If Kennard manages to beat LC in game two, then a third, deciding game will be played, and will begin about 30 minutes after game two ends.

LC beat Sulphur Bluff in Grand Saline in the regional semifinals, and before that, the Lions topped Miller Grove in a series played in Rains.

In the series clincher against Sulphur Bluff, LC got nine strikeouts from Dylan Harris in a 5-2 win, and the Lions had already won the first game, 5-4.

Looking ahead, should the Lions go on and beat Kennard and punch their ticket to the UIL state tournament, they’ll be playing at Dell Diamond in Round Rock on Wednesday, June 7, in one of two semifinals that day.

The 1A games are the first games of the day: at 9 a.m. and at noon. LC would be in one of those games. The two winners of those semifinals would meet in the state championship game, and that’s scheduled to be played the following day, on Thursday, June 8, also at Dell Diamond.

Single-game tickets for the state tournament are $15 each, so anyone who purchased a ticket for game one, let’s say, of the semifinals on Wednesday could also stay and watch game two.

Kennard – the team LC has on the ropes right now – played in the state tournament last year, losing in the semifinals.

Sports editor

Mitch Lucas is the sports editor for the Kilgore News Herald, and has been since June 1, 2002.