February 20, 2002 11:00 pm
BACK AT SHORT: Shortstop Heath Malone returns for his senior season with the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers baseball team. (The Observer file photo).
BACK AT SHORT: Shortstop Heath Malone returns for his senior season with the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers baseball team. (The Observer file photo).

By Raenelle Kwock

Observer Staff Writer

The Eastern Oregon University baseball team is ready for the tough Cascade Collegiate Conference season.

Its a real tough league, coach Wes McAllaster said. Weve got to be able to bring our A game out each day. If we dont, we may not be as successful as we want to be.

The team opens its season Friday morning against Albertson College at the Paffile Trucking Tournament in Lewiston, Idaho.

Albertson has been in the NAIA College World Series for three of the last four years and won a championship in that span.

I feel (with) the people we have, the players we have, we should be able to compete, McAllaster said. Hopefully, we can come through.

McAllaster said good pitching always stops good hitting, and the pitchers are focusing on first-pitch strikes, composure and giving the team a chance to win and keep it in the game.

Senior pitcher Ryan Banks returns with a 5-1 record from last year.

Were fortunate to have him, McAllaster said.

Banks, along with senior pitchers Jay Ferrell, Andrew Woolsey, and Doug Scott, will provide leadership for the rest of the staff.

Its a nice mix in terms of having some seniors that have been around and know whats going on, to kind of hopefully help out with the others, McAllaster said.

Freshman pitcher Josh Adams is doing well, the coach said.

Hes thrown real well, McAllaster said. He had a good fall.

If the pitchers are not throwing strikes, it will be up to the defense to put the clamps on the other team. The defense will concentrate on three outs per inning, not making mental errors and playing competitively.

Were real happy with our versatility and depth in the outfield, McAllaster said. Weve got five guys that can play out there. Its just going to come down to whos swinging it, and defensively theyre all very solid, and we dont lose anything defensively. Its going to be whos swinging (that will) dictate who is in the lineup in the outfield.

Center fielder Dan Curfew, right fielder Brant Davis, right fielder Kelly Hood, left-center fielder Scotty Tondevold and left fielder Justin Dosher make up a strong outfield.

Dosher transferred from Yakima Community College and will start in left field.

Hes been hitting the ball extremely well, McAllaster said. Hes kind of a coachs dream in terms of he doesnt say a lot, but he busts his butt.

Eric Spackman, a transfer from Eastern Utah, will start at second base. The infield has only one returning starter in senior shortstop Heath Malone. Senior catcher Tommy Porter is also back, hoping to impress the pros with a stellar final season.