ANDERSON — A strong summer season, a healthy crop of returnees and the impending arrival of a solid freshman class have Mike Miller thinking about rapid improvement in his second year at the helm of Liberty Christian’s baseball program.
The Lions are hoping to mirror the rise of the school’s boys basketball program that went from a 5-16 record three years ago to winning a Class 1A regional championship this spring.
Nobody is under the impression it will be easy, but at least there’s a blueprint to follow.
“It has put higher expectations on us,” Miller said of the basketball team’s success. “But I think that momentum can carry over. You can feel it throughout the school and throughout our administration.”
Senior Preston Quinn witnessed the basketball team’s growth as a four-year starter, and he’s one of five seniors who will help lead this season’s baseball roster. All-Herald Bulletin team catcher Justin Kreig, Jacob Blower, Dalton Miller and Josh Winchell will form the other pillars of that leadership quintet.
They’ll be joined by junior Robert Beisley, and the extremely early results have been promising.
“Practice is going great,” Miller said. “Our kids had a great, great summer program, and it’s really carried over.”
The Lions also will receive an infusion of fresh faces carrying familiar surnames. Payton Quinn, Eli Blower and Luke Miller lead a class of newcomers expected to make an immediate contribution.
Mike Miller worked with many of these players during their younger days on a travel all-star team.
“It’s a real big jump from middle school to high school,” he said. “But they’re a lot more prepared for it because of playing summer ball with me.”
That increased preparation could be evident throughout the roster. Liberty Christian enters this season with a much greater understanding of Miller’s system and his expectations.
If last season was about laying a foundation, this spring is about building upon it. And Miller believes the Lions are ready to take the next step.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” he said.
In This Series This is the fourth of 11 previews in this series on boys baseball. Shenandoah, Daleville and APA can be found online. Next up: Madison-Grant.