Liberty brought in Seth Wheelock to lead the 2011 installment of the team. Wheelock played at Antioch and had coached for the Panthers for eight years before coming to Brentwood. This season, though, the Lions are still trying to find their stride. In their first six games, they went 1-5 and Wheelock penciled in six different lineups.
Still, the players have noticed a change in the team’s attitude. Liberty was able to post a 13-2 win on Tuesday over Brookside Christian. “It seems like he actually wants us to win,” said junior catcher Zach Finley of Wheelock. “He wants to get the entire program better, not just this team.”
Indeed, Wheelock quickly identified continuity as the key to getting the baseball program moving in the right direction. By forming a consistent lineup, a consistent routine and a consistent mentality, Wheelock believes the wins will start to come.
The current varsity team will go as far as its pitching and defense takes it. Since Finley splits time with senior Caleb Salas behind the plate, the varsity Lions are strong up the middle defensively. Coaches say freshman starting shortstop Mitchell Zamora conducts himself like an upperclassman. Junior pitcher Ian Schwaab has also been a pleasant surprise, keeping his team in games both as a starter and a reliever.
“Pitching is always king,” said Wheelock. “I think the brightest thing in the future of this program is the pitching, top to bottom. There are a lot of quality arms and a lot of people getting the necessary experience.”
Wheelock has also been happy with senior centerfielder Jose Arebalo, particularly in the field. The coach says that Arebalo’s range allows him to run down fly balls that most centerfielders wouldn’t even reach. In addition to strong defense, Arebalo is also hitting .364 on the young season.
In addition to a group of young players, the 2011 Lions field 11 seniors. One of them is leftfielder Will George, a second-team All-BVAL outfielder in 2010 and .333 hitter thus far. Although the season is young, George has noticed a change in culture that starts at the top.
“He’s helping us focus more,” said George. “It’s kind of a new experience, having a new coach. He’s a great coach. He has a lot of new ideas that are helping the team out.”