After the Augusta Christian baseball team lost 11 seniors from last season's state championship squad, finding replacements has been at the top of the Lions' to-do list.
"It's a slow process," Lion coach Craig Johnson said. "People are still getting their feet wet."
The three sophomores and two juniors starting in the Lion lineup didn't just get their feet wet last weekend; they were thrown into the deep end.
After cruising to an 11-0 win in the season opener last Tuesday, the young Lions faced undefeated Westminster on Thursday and Lexington High School, a public school team ranked No. 3 in South Carolina Class AAAA, in a double-header on Saturday.
Augusta Christian also had defending GISA state champion North Cobb Christian on the schedule for Friday, but the game was postponed because of rain.
With such heavy competition, the Lions came away with a win and two losses. Augusta Christian beat Westminster 9-4 then dropped a pair of games to Lexington High School 11-6 and 4-3.
"We have a lot of guys playing who haven't had varsity experience," Johnson said after the Westminster game on Thursday. "So far, we've still got some things we need to work on, but I'm pleased with their attitude."
He's also pleased with their bats. The Lions got their expected production from power-hitting shortstop Josh Whitaker in the win over Westminster. The senior hit a home run to drive in three runs in a six-run second inning to break the game open.
The young Lions also contributed to the offensive explosion. Sophomore Austin Crabill went 3-for-3 from the plate with an RBI double.
"I think we're just all making it happen," Crabill said. "We all want to help out any way we can."
Another sophomore, leadoff man William Banks, hit 1-for-2 with a pair of RBI in the win over Westminster, then went 2-for-3 with two doubles in the 4-3 loss to Lexington on Saturday.
The Lions, ranked No. 1 in the SCISA baseball preseason poll, won't see any easier competition this week. Augusta Christian will take on North Augusta High School on Thursday.
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