Lakeview baseball names new coach

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 9:26 am on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vern Smith, right, will take over as Lakeview varsity baseball coach. Smith is also an assistant football coach for the Wildcats.

LAKEVIEW — Vern Smith is taking over in Lakeview.

The JV baseball coach is moving up to the varsity position after Ryan Vellanti resigned.

Smith lead the JV Wildcats to a 15-7 record last year.

“I had coached the JVs for the past couple of years and I know a lot of the kids,” Smith said. “Then when I heard that Ryan was going to resign I was sad about that because I enjoyed working with Ryan. It seemed like the next logical step to do.”

Smith has a lot of work to do, and he knows it.

“Right now just looking over it I think we’re going to be really young,” he said. “I think next year is going to be a big learning year because looking at the boys we’ll have, we’re going to have to bring some sophomores up. Pitching is going to be a big issue. But next year some of the kids will mature into good varsity players. I know we graduated a pretty good group of seniors.”

Smith takes over a team that went 9-16 last season. But he has high goals for the Wildcats in 2015.

“Any coach would be remiss if he didn’t tell you to step in and get a new league title and get a district title,” he said. “With the new league I think we can be competitive even though we’re young.”

The new league he’s referring to is a remaking of the Central State Activities Association into two divisions. Lakeview will be in the Silver Division with Hesperia, Holton, Kent City, Morley Stanwood and White Cloud.

Smith believes the first big thing he is going to have to get squared away is the pitching rotation.

“Probably the number one thing is getting our pitchers around, getting them on track to maturing,” he said. “It seems like every successful high school team has two very strong pitchers. We don’t have a strong number one. Then going back to basics. Pitching hitting and fielding is baseball.”

Vellanti did not return messages seeking comment on his resignation.

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