After barely missing in 2006, baseball team focused on making the playoffs

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Though their record didn’t show it, the seniors who will dominate the lineup on the Husky baseball team this year were competitive most of last season and are planning to capitalize on that experience this year to get back into the state playoffs.

“Last season we finished near the bottom of our league,” Coach Dan Tow said. “But we were fairly competitive.”

The Huskies lost four times to Cascade, usually by one run. The last time was in league playoffs after the Huskies defeated Molalla, which had finished league play ahead of them.

“The majority of the team, it was their first year on varsity,” Tow said. “We got blown out a few times. Most of the time, it was close.”

Seniors include Adam Matuszak, Chaz Davis, Kyle Pettit, Adam Hummer, Robbie Wallace, Sean Anderson, Skyler Bascom and Ray Lingenfelter.

Juniors include Greg Sipe, Brinden Sanders, Tyler Horner and Steven Jones. Sophomores are Garrett Petersen and Brad Valloni. Petersen, Sanders and Jones are moving up from junior varsity.

The team improved, and this year Tow wants to see it come out on top in the close ones, he said.

“Pettit and Hummer are probably our top two pitchers,” Tow said. “Both throw the ball very hard and have the ability to win games on the mound.’

Sipe and Wallace also offer good pitching skills and will see time on the mound, Tow said.

“We certainly have more depth pitching this year than we’ve had. We feel like we should certainly be competitive.”

Around the infield, Valloni will mostly play third base. Matuszak will play at shortstop.

“There’s pretty much been a Matuszak at short since the beginning of time,” Tow joked, referring to the two older brothers who also played that position.

Sipe will play at shortstop at times when he’s not taking care of business at second.

Bascom will play at first, backed up by Wallace.

Chaz Davis will play at catcher.

When they aren’t pitching, Pettit and Hummer will switch off in center field. Hummer also will see time at third.

Lingenfelter will switch out with Wallace in the outfield. Anderson and Horner, who is particularly fast, will round out the outfield.

Sanders will play in the outfield, while Petersen and Jones will play around the infield.

With pitching strength, the Huskies will also swing some good bats this year, Tow said.

“I think we’re going to have the capacity of hitting the ball well.”

Pettit and Bascom are the most likely to hit a long ball, he said. He also expects better hitting out of Davis, Matuszak and Hummer.

“All five of these guys hit pretty well last summer and hit well at times during the season last year,” Tow said.

Tow thinks Sipe will join the top tier of Husky hitters as well.

“Sipe has probably worked harder than anyone during the off season,” Tow said. “Nobody outworks Greg.”

So now the goal is to get back to the state playoffs.

“We came within one run of it last year,” Tow said.

The three previous years, the Huskies made it into the state playoffs, he noted. Getting back there is feasible, and the Huskies also intend to battle for the league title.

Among league opponents, Newport looks to be the cream of the crop.

“Newport has a real experienced team this year,” Tow said. Newport was young last year and went to the state semi-finals. “Anybody that knows anything about the Val-Co would pick them.”

Before this year, the Cubs have consistently been on the Husky schedule and are a friendly rival.

“I grew up in Newport,” Tow said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with them.”

The coaches are friendly, and the students are friendly, he said. “Their kids and ours always seem to get along well.”

Philomath and Central are strong, successful programs every year, Tow said. “It’ll be a lot like the Capital. There weren’t many years you had a team you knew you could blow out.”

Taft lost 11 or 12 seniors, Tow said, but the school is well-coached. He is certain the Tigers will be ready to compete.

Matt Matuszak returns to coach the junior varsity with assistance from new coach Josh Marvin. Ron Danielson and Devon Bowen will be in their first year coaching the freshmen.

Lance Carter and Don Casteel will assist Tow with the varsity.

“We’ve got some good turnout at both the JV and freshman level,” Tow said.

The junior varsity includes Tanner Erickson, Cody Lawrence, Josh Slay, Brandon Oswalt, Leif Erickson, Jake McCollum, Dustin Horn, Brandon Nunn, Shelby Johnston, Eric Florek and Miles Beaudreau.

Freshmen include J.P. Williams, Steven Bidwell, Christian Whitfield, R.J. Young, Tyler Holly, Colton Ringheimer, Christ Lovik, Jamie Steinbacher, T.J. Sipe, Sean Potter, Jason Whitlow, Levi Marchbanks, Andrew Winslow and Brock Cota.