SOFTBALL, BASEBALL PREVIEWS'CATS COUNT ON SASSER
By Pat Perkins
and Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
Into the third year of their program, the Union Bobcats softball team is ready to step up to the plate.
The team has no seniors, but the six juniors have been around for awhile.
This is their third year of varsity, coach Steve Robertson said. We took our lumps the last two years as freshmen and sophomores.
Union is off to a 2-0 start after wins over Grangeville, Idaho, and Pine-Eagle. The latter included a no-hitter in the circle by junior pitcher Jennifer Sasser, who has thrown the majority of pitches for the Bobcats the last two years.
Weve been relying a lot on Jennifer Sasser, but Kallin Prince is looking pretty good, Robertson said.
Prince, a sophomore, is throwing more JV games and should give Sassers arm a rest at times this season.
Ten players had at least some varsity playing time last season, and the more experienced include junior first baseman Jana Brotherton, third baseman Melissa Helmer and center fielder Colbi Robertson. Those three have combined for six of Unions 15 hits this season and eight of the teams 15 RBIs.
The other juniors are catcher Jaycee Waite, shortstop Deanna Hall, utility player Kristi Pierce and right fielder/catcher Rosa Goodman, a first-year player.
The sophomore class is helping out, too. Right fielder Mallory Wike has four hits so far, and second baseman Lena Weitlauf has two hits and three RBIs. Prince will also play in left field.
The softball program has grown this season, and that has allowed Robertson to field a complete JV team.
This year I have 23 girls out total, compared to the 12 or 13 we had the last two years, Robertson said.
Two freshmen who are getting some varsity experience are infielders Angie Collins and April Savely.
Still, the experienced players will see the most time on the diamond.
Defensively were looking really good, Robertson said. Our hitting hasnt come around to what I think its going to be yet. We have been outside quite a bit, but we havent spent as much time on our hitting as we should have.
Were really counting on the experience and weve learned a lot. Were ready this year.
EAGLES SEEK STATE RETURN
Pitching and defense are two areas that the Joseph baseball team is focusing on this season.
One of the goals is all-out hussle, Joseph coach Dave Schmidt said.
Josephs overall record is 4-3. Schmidt expects the team to do as well as we can every game.
The team fell to third-ranked Regis at the OSAA-U.S. Bank 2A/1A State Baseball Championships last year. It was the first time Joseph advanced to the state tournament.
Schmidt said he expects the team to do well again. Hopefully, (well) make districts, he said.
There are six seniors looking to finish strong.
Three of them are on the pitching staff: Dollen Stroup, Tyler Nall and Willy Borgerding.
Stroup also plays catcher and Nall plays center field.
Of the remaining three seniors, two are outfielders, Jeff Gleasman and Cody Aschendrenner, and the other is catcher Jeremy Dalton.
The rest of the team consists of juniors, Ryan Barstad (second); Chris Garrett (left); Pat Lynn (shortstop/third); sophomores, John Schmidt (third); Dustin Gibbs (first); Wade Gleasman (pitcher/utility); and freshman Tanner Stewart (outfield).
The team hosts Weston-McEwen Thursday.
PITCHING IS KEY FOR UNION
The defense is better and the bats are working. If the pitching catches up, the Union Bobcats baseball team will fare well this season.
Union, sporting a 1-4 record in March, features six seniors this season, including two-time all-Wapiti League third baseman Mike Maley.
The Bobcats also have two senior pitchers who play shortstop when not on the mound: Shae Prince and Lucas Maples.
Our pitching will be the determining factor as to whether we have success or now, Union coach Greg Poor said. Our bats will get there.
So far, that trio has led the team at the plate. Prince has eight hits in the five games, including a home run, and seven RBIs. Maples has six hits and Maley has five hits and four RBIs.
The teams other seniors are first baseman Sam Goodman, catcher Justin Colkitt and outfielder C.J. Bertrand.
Defensively, were looking better than I expected, Poor said. Having six seniors in your starting lineup helps. Weve got a lot of maturity than weve had in the past.
The underclassmen are led by a pair of sophomores. Catcher Matt Fiorito has four hits and two RBIs in the five games, while outfielder/left-handed pitcher Todd Satterfield has two hits and an RBI.
Outfielder Jeremy Shankel, with two hits and three RBIs so far, leads a four-member junior class. The other juniors are second baseman John Dodds, outfielder and backup first baseman Nathan Perry and outfielder Gary Ferguson.
The other sophomores on varsity are outfielder Rudy Turner and pitcher/infielder Mitchell Seale.
HUSKIES HAVE CLASS MIX
A mix of seniors and sophomores lead the Elgin baseball team this season.
The Huskies open their Wapiti League season Saturday at home against Prairie City.
Senior Tyler Davis will be Elgins top pitcher, with sophomore Skyler Payne the likely No. 2 pitcher for league doubleheaders.
Elgin coach Gordie Simons has already tried freshman Codi Burgess on the mound as a third option, and sophomore Blake Eckstein may be called on to pitch as well.
The Huskies have three seniors in Davis, second baseman Ryan McKone and center fielder Justin Harris.
The sophomores will all see time at various positions. Eckstein is the starting catcher but will also play at first base. Chad McDonald can play in left field, at third base or at first base. Ricky Foster is a first baseman/outfielder, and Payne will also play at third base.
Burgess has started at shortstop, with freshman Jeremy Hamill to his right at third base. Freshman Charlie Schumacher is in right field, but he will also play at first base and behind the plate.
Eddie Diaz is a backup outfielder, and Ryan McCrae is another utility player.