NEW CARLISLE - A free-agent pursuit which has lasted the past several offseasons has finally come to a conclusion, as New Carlisle has stolen 2015 ORWBL Cy Young winner Jake Lawrence from arch-rival Rolling Prairie.
Lawrence, who has spent the first five seasons of his ORWBL career with Emery's Army, was the unquestioned general of his club in 2015. Despite no reported pitching stats, ORWBL managers voted him Cy Young after leading EA to an 18-6 record and a second place regular season finish behind eventual champion Cult West.
No stranger to the Newts, Lawrence has played on both sides of the rivalry. Beginning with the 2014 Peacefest Championship team, he has appeared in several tournaments for New Carlisle, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the 2015 City Championship at Hometown Days.
As previously mentioned, no stats were kept for Emery's Army in 2015. However heading into this past season, Lawrence boasted a .485 career batting average with 90 home runs and 230 RBI. Despite not accounting for the previous campaign, his 324 recorded hits rank 11th on the all-time leaders list.
Lawrence broke into the league in 2011, making an immediate impact for EA. Helping them to their only division title in franchise history, he was named National League Rookie of the Year.
The Newts have targetted Lawrence since the 2013 offseason, after he led EA (under the name Habeas Corpus) to the Hometown Cup Finals. The loyalty to the Rolling Prairie side of the fierce rivalry stood in the way of any free agent deals getting done. Trade rumors swirled through much of 2015 until the deadline, when EA manager Eric Johnson pulled the plug on a potential blockbuster deal.
Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but it represents the first significant move of the offseason for the Newts, who will most certainly continue to build a roster through the free agent market. Currently, only Sean Touhey, Garrett Curless, and Noah Shail have officially re-signed for 2016. Randy Schuster and Dewey Thompson are also expected to return next season.