Lions sputter early, come together mid-season
   With 14 new varsity members, including an unprecedented number of four sophomores, the Lions fought through initial inconsistency to achieve a 19-11 record.
   The team began its season with a two game trip to Apopka, a heavy-hitting team ranked second. Leon won the first game 4-3 and split the series at one game a piece. "That game was so important to us. By beating one of the best teams in the state, we proved to ourselves we could win against anyone," said senior Scott Harrell.
   Yet the team didn't dominate, at least not at first. "We were just a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde team this year. Sometimes we were great and at other times we'd fall apart," said senior Jason Davis.
   On March 13, the Lions faced their biggest rival, Lincoln. Powered by senior Jeremy Bilotto's grand slam, Leon tore the Trojans apart 13-1. "For the rookies on the varsity it was a dream come true. Our first Lincoln game, and we 10-run ruled them," said junior Bill Mattice. "Everyone played well and that game really began to unite us."
   Even with such strong performances in the first Lincoln game and a mercy rule beating of Godby, the team entered the Orlando Baseball Classic with an ordinary 8-7 record. "We knew the districts were coming up so starting with the tournament we began to focus, eliminated the errors, and really became a good team instead of just good individuals," said junior Matt Mitchell.
   When Spring Break rolled around Leon began to play well in every game. The Lions were able to pull together and win nine of their last 11 games to finish the season strong.  "We were a very different team at the end of the year. All our young players matured and the teamwork took over," said sophomore Jonathan Davis.
   Offensively, the team was led by senior Jason Davis, juniors Mitchell, Mattice and Stas Swerdzewski, a sophomore. The ace of the pitching staff was senior Bay Paul, an off-speed specialist, who compiled an 8-2 record.

Team Picture

1996 Varsity Baseball
(First Row) Chris Whidden, Jason Runkle, Matt Mitchell, Matt Brown, Lance Stafford, Chris Wygle, Kenrick Brown. (Second Row) Chad Kittrell, Jeremy Bilotto, Jonathan Davis, Stas Swerdzewski, Colin Tease, Bay Paul, Nick Whidden. (Last Row) Coach Greg Jones, Rodney Glover, Jason Davis, Scott Harrell, Bill Mattice, Jerry NeSmith, Andy Cain, Whitney Page, Coach Paul Lambert.
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1996 J.V. Pictures
1996 Frosh Pictures

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