LONE GROVE — Entering his second season at the helm for the Lone Grove Longhorns head coach Tyler Pybas is ready to take this team to the next level.

LONE GROVE — Entering his second season at the helm for the Lone Grove Longhorns head coach Tyler Pybas is ready to take this team to the next level.

Following a 15-16 season, the Longhorns have plenty of experience heading into next season. 

The loss of seniors Casen Preserve, Clay Geurin, Isaac Coffman and Jacob Brawley will be hard to replace for the Longhorns, but Pybas is excited about the future.

“We will have eight freshman (next year), they had a really good junior high season,” Pybas said. “Those kids like to play baseball. They have a high baseball IQ. It is going to be a fun group, not just the freshmen but the whole team to coach.”

The eight incoming freshman finished their eighth grade season 18-1, and are looking to break into the starting lineup next season.

As for the upper classmen, the Longhorns will be trotting out four seniors to lead the team next season.

“I think what is going to make us even better this is going to be competition,” Pybas said. 

“We are going to have a lot of guys, especially those freshman coming up, that can compete for a job . Everyday in practice this next year is going to have to be a war for a spot. Competition is going to bring out the best in you.”

Among the upperclassmen Lone Grove will have returning next season will be Ethan Barnes, who played shortstop last season. He finished the year with a. 304 batting average to go with a .457 on base percentage and a .362 slugging percentage with 21 hits and 11 RBI’s.

Kolton Ellis will also be coming back next season after a junior campaign in which he hit .278 with a .376 on base percentage with 22 hits for the year.

Nate Sudderth will also be among the upperclassmen returning, after he hit .305 at the plate last season with 25 hits and 16 RBI’s. He also registered a 1.83 ERA on the mound with 56 strikeouts and 26 walks in 46 innings pitched. 

Also coming back on the mound will be another junior in Kort McCurtain, after he finished last year with a 1.96 ERA with 45 strikeouts and 31 walks in 39.1 innings pitched. 

After winning their first game against Antlers in the OSSAA district tournament last season, Lone Grove ended its season by losing their next two. 

After starting the season one and three, with two of those losses by double-digits against teams from Texas, the Longhorns rattled off five straight win to get over .500. 

Pybas believes his team has the potential to do big things next season.

“This big issue for us this last year was when we didn’t have a few guys on the mound we really struggled in those games,”he said. 

“I feel like our pitching overall for this next year is going to be better. We can run some guys out there that can throw strikes. That was a big issue for us is that if we didn’t have one to two guys on the mound we really struggled.”

One of the things Pybas has been impressed with his team has been their work ethic.

Pybas, who has had coaching experience before coming to Lone Grove, is ready to grow as a coach himself in year two with the team. Being a better coach on the field will also help his team become more successful.

“I am always trying to get better, I am far from the best baseball coach,” Pybas said. 

“I always try and ask questions to other people and other coaches around the area and I read. Just like our players should, I do the same thing, I always look to gain an edge on somebody by learning something new and try and get better as a coach.”