Reeve Woodward takes on softball duties, Jeff Cochell will coach Gaston baseball

By Zack Palmer

The News-Times

Gaston’s baseball and softball teams will both be under new management this spring, and both coaches say they want to bring one thing to their respective programs — continuity.

Jeff Cochell is taking the reins of the Gaston baseball program, becoming the fifth head coach in the last nine years, while Reeve Woodward, who many will recognize as the head football coach at Gaston, will be taking over the softball program.

“I’m basically just tired of the neverending revolving door of coaches for our girls,” said Woodward, who will become Gaston’s fifth softball coach in as many years.

“They deserve better. They’re all really good girls. I’m tired of seeing a new coach every year. It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.”

Cochell feels similarly about the Gaston baseball program.

“Every coach who comes here, it seems like it’s one or two years and then they’re done. I don’t know how you build a program like that,” he said. “I think that’s what Gaston needs — somebody who’s going to stick around for a while and try to build the program.”

On the surface, Woodward’s task may seem a bit easier. Despite changing coaches every year since Jerry Mettee left following the 2010 season, the Lady Greyhounds have still won three consecutive Northwest League titles, going a combined 42-3 in league play during that period.

“Gaston should not be taken lightly,” Woodward said. “The softball team has been pretty good the last few years, and that’s with five different coaches.”

The Greyhounds graduated five seniors from last year’s squad, but there is no shortage of talent on the roster. Woodward, who played baseball at Pacific University and cut his teeth coaching that sport at Linfield, said the strength of this year’s Gaston softball team will be up the middle, starting with junior pitcher Haylie Davis.

Davis was pressed into action as a freshman and was a breakout star, leading the Hounds to a league title and a state playoff berth. She shared pitching duties with senior Brielle Matson last season, but will once again get the lion’s share of the work in 2014.

Fellow junior Jaycie Endicott will return as the team’s starting catcher, while juniors Amber Kuyl (shortstop), Carly Christian (second base) and Kasey Cookston (third base) will patrol the infield.

Sophomores Hannah Bonebrake, Hannah Ungar and Claire May will compete for playing time in the outfield, along with freshmen Abby Zawodny, Emily Boehmer and Morgan Ranes.

“We’ll compete for a league championship this year,” Woodward said. “I’m not saying we’ll win it, but we’ll be in the hunt. Our goal this year is we’re going to be a playoff team, and then next year we’ll set the bar even higher.”

Cochell also inherits a team light on seniors but heavy on talent.

Junior Trevor Reynolds returns as one of the Greyhounds’ top pitchers, and senior Joey Stark returns to play catcher. Sophomore Jarad Davis, who caught some last year, will likely shift to third base or shortstop.

Junior twins Alex and Ryan Sweet will also figure prominently, although Ryan will miss the beginning portion of the season while he rehabs from knee surgery. Alex will pitch and also play third base.

Among the newcomers that have Cochell most excited are freshmen Dylan Duckworth, Bryce Colors and Noah Soley. Duckworth and Colors are both left-handed pitchers, and Soley is a middle infielder.

“We’re so excited,” Cochell said. “I would really like to see us at the top of the league — one or two, somewhere in there. Looking ahead, I would love to make some sort of run in the playoff this year and then build on that for next year.”

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