RALEIGH — Guy Civitello, the Leesville Road baseball coach who recently wrapped up his first regular season leading the team, is taking advantage of the perks of summer ball.
Last year, Civitello was not able to coach the team’s summer season before taking over the varsity program.
“To see these younger guys and see what they can do and what their strengths and weaknesses are, it’s great for me to be able to evaluate them going into next year so this way I have a plan going in of what we need to work on in the regular season,” Civitello said.
The Leesville Roadrunners, the club’s summer league team playing in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer Baseball League, is composed of mostly new faces.
On a roster of 17, just six are returning varsity players.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces, a lot kids coming up of off JV,” Civitello said. “So we’re just trying to find our identity a little bit and stress to the kids to find one thing they really want to focus on and come every day to focus on that one thing and try to get better at it.”
The team got its first win Thursday night, 13-6, at host Sanderson’s team, the Six Forks Shadow.
Leesville got behind early before evening things up and using a mid-game run, including a three-run double by Ryan Sande, to open up the game in the fifth.
“Ryan got that big hit with the bases loaded to open things up for us,” Civitello said. “We haven’t had a full roster here yet. We’ve had a couple of close games. We were leading going into the seventh at home against Heritage and we lost that one, so it was nice to get our first win here.”
It was the first loss for Sanderson.
Summer ball is more laid back because the lineup is constantly changing with players in and out of town, Sanderson coach Todd Laughlin said.
After leading Sanderson to a Cap Eight title this spring, Laughlin said the summer team has hit the ball well in its first five games but needs to work on getting consistent pitching.
His teams has nine players coming up from junior varsity, so the focus is on putting the pieces together.
“We’re working on getting them in the mix and bringing them up to speed with how things run on the varsity level and giving them some of that experience.” Laughlin said.
Civitello agreed, saying the key is player development.
“Of course we want to win, and we feel winning’s important, but we have to learn how to win,” Civitello said. “You never want to lose a whole bunch of games in the summertime, because you can teach yourself bad habits, but we really stress the individual fundamentals and development that way, and we try to tie it together and get some wins.”
The two teams face off again Monday at Leesville Road. The junior teams play at 4 p.m., and the senior teams play at 6 p.m.