New baseball coach, team get down to work

From left, Ryan Williams, Randolph Gray, Matt Fletcher, Coach Jim Lesinski, Jacob Dawson, Grayson Love, John Mills, Zack Zamudio, Garfield Burke, and Aaron Dodson have an on-the-field meeting during practice. Photo by Melissa Delcour.

The sounds of baseball being played reverberated in the crisp, pre-spring air on Tuesday afternoon behind Rappahannock County High School.

Coach John Lesinski led the Panther varsity baseball team in some field preparation before group warm-ups and drills.

“We had our first week of practice last week,” Lesinski said. “It was a good start. Even though there are a few out with bumps and bruises from their previous sports, we have around 15 players on the roster right now.”

Lesinski is a longtime athlete who calls baseball “my number one passion sport.” His father coached him in school. In college, he joined the rowing team and later coached that sport. After four years in the Marine Corps, he pitched and played outfield in a men’s baseball league.

Lesinski never lost his love of the game.

“I saw Coach Harris at a football game this fall and told him I’d be interested in helping with spring baseball. This year, I got the call and applied for the position.”

The new addition to the Panther coaching staff wasted no time making his impact. When he discovered that the field needed work, he ordered two loads of dirt and found some help. Last Sunday (Feb. 27), Lesinski, along with his assistant coach Chris Garcia, an RCHS graduate, and a “dedicated parent,” began rebuilding the field. They started with a new pitcher’s mound.

During Tuesday’s practice, Panther players drilled on the field and in the batting cage. As arms loosened and swings went around, the team’s potential became more obvious. There’s a definite mixture of lifelong players and those newer to it.

“I can see the team being good,” Garcia said. “We’ve gotta work hard because every other team will be counting us out. But we have the potential to be really good.”

Senior Matt Fletcher added to Garcia’s prediction: “Yeah, it would be nice to have more kids who’d played before, but we have a lot of time to teach the inexperienced, and we have a lot of time to learn more, too. I’m glad we have coach [Lesinski] for my senior year.”

The Panthers have a scrimmage March 11 at Randolph-Macon Academy beginning at 4:30. The first opportunity to see the team on its home field will be a 6 p.m. March 17 game against Culpeper High School.