The Lightning compiled a 4-3 mark in their first week with a pair of wins against the Winter Garden Squeeze — Leesburg’s 33rd win in 45 games between the two teams — along with victories against Sanford and Winter Park.
Leesburg begins its second week of the season Tuesday against the Seminole County Snappers — weather permitting, of course — at Pat Thomas Stadium-Buddy Lowe Field. Monday’s game against the Snappers in Sanford was canceled due to inclement weather.
That game will be made up at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Sanford Memorial Stadium.
The Lightning began the week in a second-place tie with DeLand, 1 1/2 games behind Sanford.
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Following Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s scheduled game against the Snappers, Leesburg is set to square off with DeLand in a three-game set.
The series with the Suns begins Thursday at Conrad Park-Melching Field in DeLand, followed by a rematch Friday at Pat Thomas Stadium-Buddy Lowe in Leesburg before returning to DeLand Saturday for the finale.
The Florida Collegiate Summer League was created in 2003 to afford college players an opportunity to hone their skills. By using a wood bat, rather than composite or aluminum bats, players can often be better evaluated by professional scouts.
To date, more than 400 players with FCSL experience have been drafted by MLB teams and more than 20 have reached the major leagues.
A typical start for the Leesburg Lightning
Leesburg’s 4-3 opening-week effort is right in line with history.
Over the franchise’s 15-year history, the Lightning have compiled a 62-43 won-loss record through its first seven games, including this year’s start. In fact, it’s overall won-loss record after seven games averages out to a 4.1 wins and 2.9 losses, which round off to — you guessed it — a 4-3 record.
The team’s opening week winning percentage — .590— is also higher than its all-time winning mark. Heading into the week, the Lightning’s all-time recordis 332-245, good for a .577 winning percentage — .013 points lower than the team’s average seven-game start.
Counting this season’s opening salvo, Leesburg sported a winning record after seven games in nine seasons, while compiling a losing slate six times. The Lightning’s best start is 6-1, which was accomplished twice (2011 and 2018), while it’s worst was a 1-6 mark in 2010.
That 2010 start is the only time in franchise history the Lightning failed to win at least three of its first seven games. However, Leesburg overcame that slow start to reach the FCSL championship game, where it faced Winter Park at Tropicana Field in what turned out to be Frank Viola’s last game as Lightning manager.
In other words, the idea that Leesburg is a traditionally slow-starting team is fallacy, not fact.
Clay Stearns off to a blistering hitting start in wood-bat lea
Lightning catcher Clay Stearns has wasted little time getting his bat in gear. A rising junior at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, Stearns leads the Lightning with a .429 batting average, heading into Monday’s game against Seminole County.
Lightning strikes:Lightning ride grand slam to 10-6 win against Winter Garden
In addition, he has one home run, and it was a big fly — the 15th grand slam in Lightning history, — which he hammered to left Wednesday in Leesburg’s 10-6 win against Winter Garden. Stearns is tied with Jordan Griffin, Travis Stapleton, and Naphis Llanos for the team lead in homers.
He leads the Lightning and fourth in the FCSL with eight RBIs.
Lightning pitching among FCSL’s best
Leesburg’s cadre of pitchers have gotten off to a solid start with a 3.77 team ERA, good for second in the league behind only Sanford’s 2.97 mark. In addition, the Lightning have limited opposing hitters to a .200 batting average.
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In their first 62 innings, Lightning hurlers have allowed only 47 hits, while striking out 76 of 270 batters faced. The staff’s WHIP — walks and hits per inning pitched — is 1.24, second only to Sanford’s 1.05 mark.
The average WHIP in Major League Baseball this season is 1.27.
Zach Henderson, Myles Caba, Jacob Bradshaw and Beau Fletcher have earned the Lightning’s first four wins. Henderson sports a 0.00 ERA in his first four appearances, spanning 4 2/3 innings.
as of Monday morning
W L .Pct GB
Sanford 6 2 .750 —
Leesburg 4 3 .571 1.5
DeLand 4 3 .571 1.5
Winter Park 4 4 .500 2
Winter Garden 3 4 .429 2.5
Seminole County 1 6 .143 4.5
Leesburg Lightning Schedule
All games start at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday — Seminole County
Wednesday — at Seminole County, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday — at DeLand
Friday — DeLand
Saturday — at DeLand
Note: Seminole County home games are played at Sanford Memorial Stadium. DeLand home games are at Conrad Park-Melching Field. There is no admission for Lightning home games, but tickets must be purchased for road games.