LEESBURG — Weather might’ve been the big winner last week in the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
Mother Nature wreaked havoc with the FCSL schedule, limiting every day to fewer than the originally scheduled number of games, including the Leesburg Lightning.
Still, the Lightning got in four games last week — one against Seminole County and three against Winter Garden — and earned a split. Leesburg dropped a 2-0 decision on June 21 against the Snappers — a makeup from a rain out on June 15 — and won two of three against the Squeeze.
Following the series against Winter Garden, the Lightning improved to a 4-1 record for the season with the Squeeze and a 38-18 all-time record.
Prior to Winter Garden’s 1-0 win Saturday — which snapped a 17-game losing streak to Leesburg — the Squeeze’s last win against the Lightning was June 2, 2019, an 11-10 slugfest at Lake Minneola.
This week’s slate of games — weather permitting, of course — includes five home contests, including Leesburg’s annual Independence Day home game. This year’s opponent for the prelude to the city’s fireworks show over Lake Harris is Winter Garden.
Game time is set for 5 p.m. and fans will be invited to bring blankets and chairs and sit on the field for the fireworks.
If weather look threatening, Lightning officials encourage fans to check the team’s Rainout Line at 352-234-4489. It is updated daily — hourly and even more often, if needed — with the status for each day’s game.
Admission is free to all Leesburg Lightning games played at Pat Thomas Stadium-Buddy Lowe Field. Traditional ballpark fare is available at the concession stand — the PT Cafe — and team souvenirs can be purchased at the ballpark.
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.
Bats coming around?
Leesburg improved its team batting average last week, jumping from .230 to .235. That puts the Lightning fourth in the FCSL in hitting, behind DeLand (.249 team batting average), Sanford (.247), and Winter Garden (.245) heading into Monday’s games.
The team is third in the league in home runs with seven and third in hits with a 112. It is second in stolen bases with 52 (out of 59 attempts) and leads the loop in stolen base percentage — 88% success rate — among the four teams with more than 30 attempts.
Only DeLand, with a 96% success rate, has been more successful on the basepaths than Leesburg; however, the Suns have attempted only 22 stolen bases.
No Leesburg hitter with more than 25 at bats is hitting higher than Clay Stearns’ .295. Vaun Brown, who joined the team less than two weeks ago, is hitting .415 with a homer, four RBIs and six runs scored in his first 14 at bats, while Brett Kelly is .318 in 22 at bats.
Brown has also been a beast on the basepaths with eight stolen bases — in as many attempts — in his first six games. His OPS — on-base percentage and slugging average — is a scorching 1.386, third-best in the FCSL.
Lightning pitching leading the loop
While the hitters appear to be finding their stroke, Leesburg’s pitchers have been overpowering.
The Lightning entered the week with a 2.84 team Earned Run Average. That’s 0.28 earned runs lower than a week ago, when the team was second in ERA to Sanford.
Leesburg’s hurlers are limiting hitters to .205 batting average, second to Sanford by .001 points. The Lightning’s collective WHIP — walks and hits per inning pitched — is an FCSL best 1.19.
The Lightning pitching staff is fourth in the league with 138 strikeouts, but has allowed the fewest walks (54). Leesburg’s 40 earned runs and 47 total runs allowed is the best in the Florida League by six and 15 runs, respectively.
Myles Caba leads the staff with a 2-0 record and a 0.75 ERA — second lowest in the FCSL. He’s struck out 19 in 12 innings and opposing hitters have managed a .128 batting average against him.
Caba and Dylan Kelley lead Lightning pitchers with 19 strikeouts apiece.
(As of Sunday)
W L .Pct GB
Sanford 11 4 .733 —
Leesburg 9 6 .600 2
Winter Park 8 8 .500 3.5
DeLand 6 6 .500 3.5
Winter Garden 6 10 .375 5.5
Seminole County 3 9 .250 6.5
(Games begin at 7 p.m. unless indicated)
Monday — Sanford
Tuesday — DeLand
Thursday — at Sanford
Friday — Sanford
Saturday — Sanford
Sunday — Winter Garden, 5 p.m.