2016 Season Preview: LCA Bulldogs



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By John Nolan
Assistant Director of Scouting/Content Management 

As we enter March, the high school season is quickly approaching. As we approach opening day, we will continue our look at high school programs throughout our coverage area as they prepare for the 2016 season.
 

Liberty Christian Academy

Team: Liberty Christian Academy
Nickname: Bulldogs
Class: 4A West
Conference: 23 and the Seminole District
Coach: Randy Tomlin
Twitter: @LCA_Athletics @RandyTomlin29
2015 Record: 21-1-1
2015 Post Season: VISAA Division I Champions
Returning Starters/Position: 7
Returning Pitchers: 8

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wes Clarke (C, 2018) Clarke has a big, strong frame. He is a good receiver and has major power at the plate as well as the athleticism to play tight end in the fall. Clarke is currently ranked 10th in the VA/DC Class of 2018.
Noah Cook (SS/RHP, 2017, VMI) Cook is an athletic defender who has top of the order speed and a strong arm. He is currently ranked 14th in the VA/DC Class of 2017.
Richard DeLaCruz (OF/RHP, 2016) DeLaCruz has a strong, athletic body, good speed and a strong arm. He is a switch hitter with some power potential from both sides of the plate.
Zack Hess (RHP, 2016, Louisiana State) Hess has a projectable frame and a big fastball and is a projected high draft pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Hess is currently ranked 3rd in the VA/DC Class of 2016.
Kyle Horton (MIF/OF, 2018) Horton is very athletic and has an older brother who is a freshman at Liberty University. He can play either infield or outfield and is fast with a good arm and the potential to hit for a high average with gap power. He is currently ranked 7th in the VA/DC Class of 2018.
Pearce Howard (OF/RHP, 2017) Howard commands the zone well with four pitches and has some pull power potential at the plate.
Grant Johnson (RHP/OF/1B, 2017) Johnson has some power on the bat and potential on the mound with the makings of a very good breaking ball and a good arm action. Johnson is also athletic and is the quarterback for the Bulldog football team.
Hunter Johnson (3B/RHP, 2017) Johnson is a potentially elite defender at third base with great actions and a strong arm. He hits from the left side and has some power potential. Johnson also can jump on the mound where he has arm strength and a good curveball. He is currently ranked 15th in the VA/DC Class of 2017.
Garrett Price (SS/RHP, 2016) Price is incredibly athletic and has track team speed. He is a very skilled defender and did not make an error as the Bulldogs’ starting shortstop in 2015.

 

SEASON OUTLOOK
Liberty Christian had a pretty good 2015 season, winning their second consecutive VISAA Division I State Championship and going undefeated against competition from Virginia. The Bulldogs moved into the top spot in the VA/DC Power 25 in the second week of the season and stayed there the rest of the way. The 2016 Bulldogs have a number of interesting storylines this spring, the first of which will be their move from VISAA to VHSL, making Liberty Christian Academy the first private school in recent memory to compete in the VHSL. The Bulldogs will drop into the meat grinder that is 4A West, adding to an already stacked region. On top of that, Liberty Christian returns seven starting position players and all but one arm off of last year’s squad. The Bulldogs’ rotation will be anchored by Hess, who should draw a crowd of scouts to every start this spring. Hess also brought a big-time bat to the middle of the lineup in 2015, and he will be back with Clarke and Hunter Johnson anchoring the middle of the Bulldog order. There will also be a lot of speed throughout the lineup and Liberty Christian will have an extremely athletic defense playing behind their deep rotation. The Bulldogs will go to Cary, North Carolina to play in USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational tournament this spring and are a team that looks like it is built to win its third straight State Championship, with this time it being the VHSL 4A Title.

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