Baseball returns three key players to the mound

The varsity baseball team returns only three players this year, but they’re key players.

Randy Wunker was named to the first team all conference last year as pitcher. Mike Nagamatsu was named second team all league as a utility player.

They are a couple of the best pitchers, Coach Dan Tow said. Joining them is Richard Erevia, who played third base and pitched as well.

“We’ve got a lot of new players,” Coach Tow said. “We’ve got a good base, and we’ve got them on the mound, which is a huge key in baseball.”

Jon Dearborn, who played some varsity last year, will succeed Andy Ellis behind the plate.

“He does a good job behind the plate,” Coach Tow said.

Several good junior varsity players move up this year, Coach Tow said. “We’re not super deep, but we feel like we have quality people at every position.”

Looking across the league, Coach Tow said, no one looks weak.

“Our league’s always so competitive, it just never fails, from the top to the bottom.”

Central, which was knocked out of the state playoffs by the state champion, The Dalles, last year, returns nearly all of its team, Coach Tow said. Sisters returns some great players, including Pat Banks, one of the top players in the league.

North Marion is solid like always, Coach Town said. “I don’t know if they’re so deep as in the past, but they’re always as tough as nails.”

Central and Sisters are probably big on people’s lists going into the season, Coach tow said. The Huskies should be able to compete with anybody with the quality pitching available this year.

All three returning players are good hitters, and all of the new players hit better than .300 last year.

“I feel like we’re going to have to work on our hitting,” Coach Tow said. Those new players will be facing a higher level of pitching.

“I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen so far,” Coach Tow said. The Huskies have the potential to be great hitters at the varsity level.

“I’m excited about the kids we have,” Coach Tow said. “It’s exciting, I guess, to see how new groups will kind of mesh together.”

When not pitching, Erevia will cover third base, Nagamatsu will play at shortstop and Wunker will play centerfield.

Ken May will play at first base.

Carey Hintze and Chris Phillips will round out the outfield.

Donny Cliver will play infield, outfield and do some pitching along with Tyler Emmert.

Bryce Beard will primarily be an infielder and play third when necessary.

Carrying only 11 players means that whoever is pitching will dictate who plays which positions, Coach Tow said.

The Huskies finished third in league last year with an 8-6 record. They were knocked out of league playoffs by a fifth-place Central, which at the end of the year was the hottest team in the league.

“Coming into the season, we’ve had a few guys working really hard,” Coach Tow said. A couple of those guys didn’t play winter sports, and instead of sitting around, they worked on their throwing and running. That will “pay big dividends.”

Seniors include Dearborn, Erevia, Nagamatsu, Wunker and May. Juniors include Beard, Hintze, Phillips and Brent Smith. Sophomores include Cliver and Emmert.

Junior varsity players include juniors Robert Couch, Joe Rosa and Kye Frick and sophomores Ronnie Garcia, Tyler Hannen, Joe Kisselburgh, Jeb Koechig, Cody Miller, Charles Murray, Lyle Ogston, Tomas Rosa and Sean Swett.

Freshmen include Brett McCutcheon, Lance Carter, Kevin Westfall, Travis Smith, Ryan Sipe, Michael Rucker, Matt Mornealt, Jonathan Mather, Brandon Martin, Chris Looney, Mark lewis, Aaron Forquer, Jeremy Bate and Jesse Aitken.