STANFORD — For Lincoln County to have a shot at getting back to the regional tournament, and maybe farther, having Ryne Otto back in the lineup is going to be key.
But the Lincoln County senior has been out since the first game of the season after injuring his back in a game against Casey County, which has made for a frustrating start for both Otto and the Patriots.
“We’ve been expecting big things this year. We went to the regional tournament last year, and we were hoping to get things rolling right out of the gate,”¿Otto said. “It’s definitely frustrating, I want to be right there with my team, be right there to help them win. And its frustrating not being able to when we need to get out and get off to a hot start.”
Lincoln is off to a 3-2 start, but still needs its senior outfielder to get back soon.
Otto hit .315 and drove in 30 runs last year, and coach Brad McNew said Otto leads the Patriots on the field and off.
“We definitely miss him. Ryne is a leader, he hits in our three-hole. You take the three-hole out of a lot of teams in the state, and it’s going to hurt. His leadership as well is missing when he’s not in uniform and out there with us,”¿McNew said.
“He made all-region (tournament) team last year, he’s a performer. He’s played varsity all four years, he’s played a lot of baseball. And he’s a guy that’s respected, and we need that in there.”
Otto was injured when he got tangled up with Casey’s first baseman in the Patriots’ season-opening win.
“I ended up rolling over and landed on my back and they said I had deep bruises on my backbone,”¿said Otto, who hopes to be back in about a week and hopes to be back to full speed shortly after that.
And when he gets back, he said he wants to build on the season he and the Patriots had last year.
“Personally, I want to hit the ball every time I’m up and help the team win. We want to win the district, hopefully, and get to region and then make a run in the region,”¿Otto said. “We need to limit our strikeouts this season. We all struck out way too much last year and need to improve on that. We need to put the ball in play and make the defense make a play on us.”