The DeSales High School baseball team will seek a second consecutive Division II district championship without one of its key players.

Senior pitcher and first baseman Luke Barber recently learned he will miss the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in his back.

Barber, an Otterbein University recruit, played in eight games this season with eight hits in 21 at-bats (.381 average) and five RBI. His last at-bat came April 8 in a 5-3, eight-inning win over Licking Valley.

A three-year starter, Barber batted .412 with 35 hits and four home runs last year as the Stallions shared the CCL championship and advanced to a regional final. As a sophomore, he led DeSales in average (.361) and hits (35).

Coach Tom Neubert, whose team improved to 9-5 overall and 2-2 in the CCL with a 12-1, five-inning win at Hartley on April 19, said he was unsure when Barber was injured.

“It might be a delayed football injury,” Neubert said. “When we were down in Myrtle Beach (South Carolina, from March 27-31), it bothered him a little bit and then he would play, and then it was an in-and-out, in-and-out sort of thing and the MRI told us he has a stress fracture.

“You lose a three-year starter like Luke who has been one of our best hitters for three years and that changes the dynamic of the team. My heart goes out to him because he has been such a great kid for this program and such a great teammate.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave