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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 09/01/14

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Joe Sova

Sports Editor

Every baseball team needs depth, preferably at each position, as an ingredient for success.

La Grande first-year head coach Mark Lanman has 15 players that will make the Tigers a very versatile, and talented, squad.

The first pitch of the season comes Saturday as La Grande takes on Class 4A Pendleton in a doubleheader. The first game begins at 1 p.m. in Pendleton.

Last year, the Tigers tied for fourth in the Greater Oregon League with a 5-7 record. Lanman fully expects this year's team to move up the ladder, perhaps to the top of the GOL.

Baker finished first in the league last year, and Ontario was second.

La Grande has quality, but also youth, with only three seniors on the team. They are Curtis Touve, Chase Miller and Nick Lequerica.

"I'm looking for their leadership this year, especially on the mound," Lanman said.

Also returning are all-district picks junior Trent Evins and sophomore Jordan Lanman.

"I want them to have a stellar year," coach Lanman said.

A number of this year's Tigers got in a lot of quality playing time, against tough opponents, last summer, according to Lanman. The coach pointed out that a La Grande crew beat Baker.

"That's a big confidence booster," said Lanman.

Evins' positions are shortstop, outfield and pitcher, while Jordan Lanman catches, plays third base and pitches. Touve, Miller and Lequerica will also see mound duty. Touve is also a first baseman and Lequerica is capable at third, while Miller plays the outfield.

The other Tigers with their positions: Ryan Caldwell, 1B, OF; Landon Weaver, OF, IF; Luke Hines, C, P, OF; Kyle Witty, OF, IF; Brett Hedden, 1B, 3B; Tad Fox, OF; Vance Kern, IF; KC Frye, IF; and Anthony Nice, utility.

"We have eight or nine kids who can throw (pitch)," coach Lanman said. "We have a dogfight for shortstop and second base."

Lanman is pleased with what he's seeing at the plate in practice.

"I think we're swinging the bat real well right now," the coach said. "The kids are doing a lot of things right. They're all trying. They're helping each other."

Lanman said the Tigers have excellent speed and will be an aggressive team on the bases.

To sit atop the GOL, La Grande will have to unseat Baker, which Lanman figures will be very good again this year.

"Our goal is to win one game at a time. Then our goal is to win a state championship at the 3A level," Lanman said.

The coach indicated that Pendleton, LHS's first foe, is an excellent team.

"It will be a real good test," Lanman said.

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