Leo High School's baseball team is 25-3 and it's that right side of the ledger that keeps driving the Lions to step their game up even more.
Two of their losses were to teams still alive in the tournament (South Side and Blackhawk Christian) and the other was to a strong DeKalb team.
All three served as added postseason motivation.
“We had a couple of games where we didn't show up to play and that hurt us,” senior catcher Ryan Kem said. “I think we should have been undefeated.”
Leo senior Taylor Horn, the team's top hitter and pitcher, agrees.
“Those three games we lost were because of errors,” Horn said. “We feel like there's no games where we have gotten beat – we really beat ourselves.”
That underlying quest for seven-inning perfection helps drive the Lions as they move on to face Bellmont (22-8) in the Class 3A Bellmont regional semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday in Decatur. The winner will play the winner of Tippecanoe Valley vs. Hamilton Heights at 8 p.m. Saturday.
As the Lions worked out Thursday following a day off for rest, coach Dave Boyce lit the verbal fire from the start of infield warm-ups. It's clear that no one on this team, from coach to players, is satisfied with what they've accomplished. The goal is to push the season deeper into the tournament and Boyce is ready to push.
The team's emphasis is to put pressure on opponents, to make the other team make mistakes.
While Horn has some outstanding statistics (.464 batting average with 45 RBIs and 9-1 pitching record with a 1.91 ERA) the Lions are a complete team, with every player contributing.
“That blue-collar mentality comes out,” Boyce said. “We've got a great group of kids. They understand the whole concept. They know if our pitchers are on, we have to back them up defensively.
“We're not going to dazzle anyone with cannon arms and racing all over the field, but we preach that you make the routine play day in and day out and we'll have a good shot at it.”
Leo advanced to the sectional title game a year ago, losing to a very talented New Haven team. Five starters returned this season for Leo, but there were some key spots to fill, including the catching spot so strongly handled by Andrew Suciu, who is now at IPFW.
Kem stepped in and has handled the role well, Boyce said.
“He's done a tremendous job filling the shoes of Andrew Suciu,” Boyce said. “He's a hard worker.”
Other regular starters besides Horn and Kem include seniors Joey Heath, Mason Heller and A.J. Miller and juniors Jackson Boyce, Trey Phillips and Jake Pulver. Another senior contributor is Tyler Lantz.
Kem said the cohesiveness of the team has been a big strength.
“Everyone is playing their hearts out right now,” Kem said. “People are stepping up in the positions they need to step up in. Our pitchers are stepping up, too.”
Horn, who has played a number of sports at Leo, said the seniors feel an urgency to perform well.
“Especially with school out, you realize high school is about making a lot of memories,” Horn said. “You think about the good times you had in Little League and stuff and now you're making memories with your friends you grew up with. It's hard. I already miss football and basketball, so I just want to keep going as long as I can.”