Boys baseball swings into season

Team welcomes six signees, expects more, sets collective, personal goals


Kent State University commit Frederick Ragsdale III ‘23 works on tracking fly balls and throwing to the cutoff man at practice on Bennett Field on March 7 (Wolf/LION).

Sydney Wolf, Sports Editor

Leaving the game they’ve known best for the past 13 years won’t be an easy task for some of LT’s varsity baseball players, according to team captain and third baseman Jack Falls ‘23. However, for six of the boys on the team’s roster of 27, that won’t be the case. Walking into this season, the boys welcomed commits from six schools all over the Midwest. 

“It’s not going to raise or lower our expectations in any way,” varsity head coach Kevin Diete said. “However, I think it relieves a lot of pressure from those players as opposed to them pondering what school to go to and feeling like they need to make an immediate decision.”

Diete played for LT until he graduated in 2003 and has been coaching the Lions for nine years. However, he brought home his first regional championship last year, a moment he will never forget, he said. While it may be challenging to replicate their impressive run last season, going 18-15 and making it to sectionals, Diete is prepared with critiques and goals so they can return even stronger. 

“I always like to hone in on base running just because it gives us runs and it can also take away runs from the other team,” Diete said. “So if we can be really good base runners and get more runs, we’re going to get more wins.”

The boys have personal goals of their own as well. First baseman and University of Wisconsin-La Crosse commit Sam Viniard ‘23 began his career in tee-ball at 4 years old and has since then been a part of Rake City baseball club and the Cangelosi Sparks. This is Viniard’s fourth year on the high school team, though his freshman season was cut short due to COVID-19, and his second year as a varsity athlete. 

“I’m definitely focusing on my defensive work this year, because last year I started at first and then got moved to designated hitter,” he said. “So I really want to lock down a spot at first base this year.”

Similar to his other five teammates continuing their baseball careers in college, Viniard fell in love with his school. He had an instant connection with the coaching staff and players, and knew that the town and campus was the right fit for him upon the very first visit, he said. 

“We’ve got a great rotation this year,” Viniard said. “I can’t wait to see how the team performs. It’s all so exciting.”

Varsity’s earliest senior commit was Falls’ fellow team captain and center fielder Frederick Ragsdale III ‘23. Signed to Kent State University in January of 2022, Ragsdale has been swinging a bat since 3 years old through the help of Jackie Robinson West Little League and has since been a part of multiple travel teams. This will also be Ragsdale’s fourth season with LT baseball and second and a half with the varsity team, as he got invited up half way through his sophomore year. 

“I love the energy the most during high school baseball,” Ragsdale said. “Everyone is completely submerged in the game. Especially against rivals when you can feel the energy of the other team across the dugouts.”

Though the boys are walking into this season with many leadership roles to fill from last year, Diete is confident that teammates like Falls, Viniard, and Ragsdale will be there to step up. 

“There are a lot of seniors that have experience that we’re bringing back from last year,” Diete said. “Hopefully a couple of juniors and sophomores that are going to contribute for us as well.”

While the overall goal will always be to take home a State championship, not achieving that goal doesn’t measure a team’s success, according to Diete. He is excited for the seniors to play together one last time, and for each player to have a unique final season. For the college commits, he is eager to watch them prepare to continue their careers. For the athletes moving on from the game, Diete will be there every step of the way helping them grow stronger for their last season and have an overall good experience, he said.

“As a senior class, we’ve stuck together all four years and we feel that we have been a very solid group,” Falls said. “We all have a good time playing with each other and I think our team chemistry sets us apart from other teams. I think the underclassmen will be able to recognize this and feed off of it as an example of how they need to play with one another.”