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Man behind the mask

Posted: May 29, 2008 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 30, 2008 5:04 a.m.

Bryan Lucas was a three year varsity player at Hart. The 6-foot-3-inch senior will play in the Connie Mack baseball league this summer for junior college players and high school graduates.

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Patience, effective leadership skills and dedication; just a few traits of a successful baseball catcher.

Hart's Bryan Lucas exemplifies these attributes, and essentially, is the program's prime field general.

"It's their duty to be in charge," said Hart senior Spencer Moniz. "I don't know a catcher who isn't a leader if he's a good catcher. He's taken his role and his position into what it's needed to be."

Lucas, a three year varsity catcher, started playing baseball when he was young. He became a catcher when he was 11 years old when his coach saw that he was getting taller and leaner. Lucas was hesitant of accepting the position at first but soon realized he had what it took to handle the task.

"What I enjoy most is I feel like I'm in charge," he said. "I see everything, I feel like I can run the team. You have to know a lot about the game and deal with pitchers that are angry and things of that sort."

Squatting behind home plate for two hours while 90 mile per hour fast balls fly at one's face probably isn't for everybody.

"You get beat up quite a bit behind the plate, it's part of the job," Lucas said.

But Lucas, a co-captain this season, revels in what is often considered the most underrated position on the field.

"Press, so be it." he said of his lack of coverage. "I enjoy the press, I don't get it but its apart of the position, I'm here to play baseball."

Often times, Lucas is the voice of reason for a pitcher that may be struggling at the mound. Lucas said it's important to have good chemistry with a pitcher for the sake of the team.

"A catcher and pitcher have to get along, gelling as a team and hanging out is all apart of baseball." he said.

Lucas also had success this year at the plate.

This season he batted .316, drove in 16 runs on 25 hits, had two home runs, and slugged .494.

But Lucas is humble when it comes to his skills at the plate.

"I'm a better defensive catcher than I am hitter," he said. "People say I can hit as a catcher. I pride myself on defense. Defense wins games in baseball and I work tremendously hard on defense, more than I do on offense."

Scouts took notice of Lucas last fall during scout leagues and offered him a scholarship to play catcher at Cal Poly Pomona.

He will join teammates Jenzen Torres and Casey McCarthy in the fall and looks forward to the challenges of playing at the next level.

"I think I'm ready," he said. " My mom prepared me and did a lot of work to mold me into who I am today."

Competing at the next level is a challenge for most, but according to Moniz, Lucas has what it takes to succeed.

"His dedication is what's going to make him successful in college," Moniz said.

This season, with Lucas at the helm, the team forged a bond that he said allowed them the success they experienced.

After finishing atop the Foothill League and losing in the quarterfinals in the CIF-Southern Section Division I playoffs, Lucas said it was the team's camaraderie that softened the fall.

"Our team chemistry helped us get far." he said. "This year everybody was headed in the same direction."

And although Hart didn't make it to Dodger Stadium in the CIF finals, Lucas looks fondly back on the year.

"I honestly think this was the best season." he said. "We all wanted the same things and were all willing to put in the hard work to get to that point."

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