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Hopewell’s Lucas Walton Excited About His New Role With HS Baseball Team

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The Hopewell High School Baseball team entered the off season knowing that the 2024 season would be full of changes.

Gone was staff ace Landon Fox along with top of the lineup hitters Greg Barlion, Stephen Slate, Lucas Arington and Ty Eberhardt.

Although things were doing to be different, change isn’t always a bad thing as it gives other players on the roster the opportunity to step up and show what they can do.

The opening week of the Hopewell 2024 season did just that as sophomore Kingston Krotec moved up in the lineup and came through in the clutch with a walk-off double Thursday against New Castle. Junior David Medich got the opening day start against Shenango and looked the part of a top of the rotation pitcher, keeping the Shenango hitters off balance with his fastball and an effective curveball. John Vescio is now the Vikings No. 3 and was the team’s top hitter batting .500 (4-for-8), with 2 runs, 2 RBI and 3 walks.

The other definite bright spot from the opening week was the play of senior Lucas Walton, who manager Morgan Singletary has installed as the leadoff hitter.

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The job of guy at the top of the order is to get on base in order to set the table for the guys in the middle of the order to drive in and Walton was able to do that.

In Hopewell’s first three games, Walton went 3 for 9, with 2 walks, 3 runs and 1 RBI.

Over the weekend, Hopewell Sports Nation had the chance to talk with Walton about the start of the season and how his role has changed from last season.

“I believe that this first week of the season proved that we have potential to go far this season,” Walton tells HSN. “We lost a lot of players from last year, but I think that we have the potential to step up this year and have the potential to replace what we lost. Some of the guys on our team this year got some at-bats in the playoffs last year or started and had a DH but talent wise, I definitely think they have what it takes. They might not have the experience but it’s not like they’re entirely new to it. It might take some time to get things going but they’ll be fine. Even if you look at our numbers from last year, we couldn’t hit the ball until we got to the playoffs. I’m confident we’re going to be able to hit this year.”

Photos of 2023 Hopewell Baseball in WPIAL Championship in Washington, PA Photos by David Hague

Just talking with Lucas, he exudes confidence and qualities of a leader. That’s definitely going to be needed because his role from a year ago has entirely changed.

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“It’s definitely a weird feeling that players are going to be leaning on me as opposed to last year where I leaned on the seniors,” said Walton. “I’m proud of and am looking forward to this new role. I’m definitely trying to be more patient and calmer when I make my decisions. Last year, I struggled, and I think it’s only natural to get upset when things don’t go great. I’m trying to help my teammates both on and off the field. I’ll try and help with schoolwork or problems or questions they have about baseball. I’m really trying to help them out to stay positive and stay patient.”

Since this is a new role, I asked Lucas if this is something he’s comfortable with and that comes natural to him.

“It’s weird knowing that I’m someone that the freshman or sophomores and even some of the juniors look up to because it feels like I was just one of those people,” said Walton. “But it feels natural for me to want to try and teach them and help. If I see someone with a problem in their swing, I might try and help them or if I see someone struggling, I’ll try and give them some advice and encourage them or calm them down.”

In critiquing his own play, Walton says that he wants to improve his defensive play and isn’t yet into the groove that he was a year ago but is confident it will come. In terms of his hitting, he feels that he needs to relax a bit and at times has been a bit over aggressive.

Photos of 2023 Senior Night Hopewell Baseball in Washington, PA Photos by David Hague

“I will say that I’m doing a good job of staying calm and controlling my emotions which is important for all athletes. In terms of an area in which I believe I’ve improved from last year; I’ve definitely shortened up my swing and am hitting the ball the other way a lot more now. Doing that is helping me with the timing of my swing.”

Hopewell is off to a 2-1 start and things will only get more difficult as the competition in section improves along with the fact that they’ll enter every game as the hunted and a target on their back. That’s the always the case when you’re the defending champion but that’s something Walton is Ok with.

“Coach Singletary has done a good job of keeping us humble, knowing that although we won the WPIAL last year, there’s still a lot of work to do this year,” said Walton. “We’re a young team and it’s not just going to come back. I think that was a little bit of a problem last year. I think we were so talented and just thought that wins were going to come automatically and that’s why we struggled at the beginning of the season.”

“I’m definitely proud of last year and definitely proud of being a WPIAL champion but we need to move on, stay humble and to attempt to play this season with a chip on our shoulder.”

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