A veteran team hopes to contend in a very strong TRL

by: VERN UYETAKE - Jordan Horak returns as the ace of Lake Oswego's staff this year. The Lakers hope to vie for another TRL title this season.The injury bug has plagued the Lake Oswego baseball team at times in the past few seasons and the Lakers may be getting some of their biggest scares out of the way early this spring.

On an eventful trip to Arizona over spring break, Lake Oswego lost one player on his first throw of the game. Tyler Coleman, who underwent labrum surgery this fall, came up wincing after a throw from the outfield. It was later revealed that he had not re-torn the ligament but he has been limited to playing designated hitter for the time being.

In the Lakers' third game in Arizona, Mitchell Verburg was hit in the face with a fastball, resulting in a horrifying scene at the plate where Verburg had a seizure.

Paramedics were called and the game was eventually canceled. Back in Oregon, Verburg received some terrific news, however. After seeing two specialists, it was determined that no neurological damage had been caused and he was cleared to play again despite a shattered cheekbone.

Verburg would return to the line-up earlier this week.

“It was kind of miraculous. That was a really traumatic thing for our players and coaches to see,” coach Jake Anders said.

If Lake Oswego can stay healthy it should be a contender to make another deep playoff run this year. The Lakers return the bulk of their pitching staff from last year and have experience all over the diamond.

Lake Oswego will be led on the mound by its ace Jordan Horak who could be among the top pitchers in the state this year.

Travis Sanders and Harrison Reece will also take starts for the Lakers who hope that Coleman may be able to rejoin the staff by the end of the season.

Verburg and Aiden Prentice will also get innings for Lake Oswego.

In the field, Lake Oswego has a mixture of experience and a handful of players seeing their first meaningful varsity action.

“We need our younger guys to really step up and meet the challenge when some of our veteran guys might be struggling,” Anders said.

At catcher, Gus Tolleson is currently starting and sharing time with Will Burton.

Sanders and Reece make up the middle of what should be a very defensively sound infield while Verburg and Max Anderson handle third base and first base respectively.

Horak will man centerfield on days when he isn't pitching with Kenny Oyama in right field and Joey Martin and Prentice in left.

The Lakers will also get big contributions from Oscar Stout, a utility player who can fill in almost anywhere on the field.

A big key for Lake Oswego this year will be how consistently it can hit. If the Lakers can string together a potent offense from top to bottom, coupled with a pitching staff that knows how to win, it should make for a very strong season.

“Realistically, we need to be more consistent all around. We're 4-4 right now and .500 is where you're going to be when you're not consistent,” Anders said.

The team figures to contend again in the brutally difficult Three Rivers League. Clackamas should also be a favorite and Lakeridge hopes to be in the mix as well.

“It means a lot to us this year especially with Clackamas leaving the league, but you can't take a game off,” Anders said.

Lake Oswego will play Jesuit and North Salem next week before opening up league play against Lakeridge.

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