Glencoe, Liberty leaning on fresh faces for wins on the diamond
With just one win under their belts in their first three games prior to their game with Southridge Wednesday, March 23, the Glencoe Crimson Tide were looking to even their record with a victory over the Metro League Skyhawks.
Unfortunately for the Tide, that wait would continue following a narrow 4-3 loss at Ron Tonkin Field.
But despite their 1-3 start, head coach Andy Ackerman is optimistic that there are good times ahead for a team still working out the kinks.
"As long as we get our starting pitchers confident and we get some runs to support them, I think we're fine," Ackerman said. "I don't see many more games like this in the future."
Glencoe fell behind early when starting pitcher Cody Wright struggled through a two-run first inning. But after things settled down, relievers Jake Jones and Camren Stortro kept the Tide in the game with a series of quality innings, giving Glencoe a chance late.
But ultimately, the Tide weren't able to get the offensive production necessary to notch a win, and Ackerman gave much of the credit for that to Southridge pitcher Jake Dodge who went the distance for the Skyhawks.
"I thought we played well but didn't hit well," the Glencoe coach said. "Cody didn't have one of his greatest performances on the mound, but both Jake Jones and Cam Stortro both came in and looked great. Our bats never came to life, so I tip my hat to the Southridge pitcher for that. They finally got going, but it was too late."
Ackerman said that one of the strengths of his team early on has been their situational play offensively and their defense and team speed. He added that depth is a plus, but at the same time there are only so many spots to go around and getting guys playing time could be a challenge.
"We have a lot of players on the varsity team with a lot of guys eyeing playing time," Ackerman said. "The tough part is finding room for everyone to play until they start becoming more productive."
The coach said in the big picture that's a good problem to have, and believes that in time, it will solve itself.
"We have an incredible group of young men who work hard to become better baseball players," Ackerman said. "The sophomore class has been pushing the juniors and seniors making the team have to earn time. Competition within the program makes the program better and I'm looking forward to the weeks ahead."
The coach said that some of the players they'll be leaning on for leadership will be Stortro and Jones, Blake Sehorn, Dillon Travis and Diego Richards. But ultimately, they'll need everyone to reach their goals for the season.
"Our goal is to be a top-three team in our league and win the first two playoff games," Ackerman said.
Liberty, one of Glencoe's crosstown rivals and Pacific Conference foes, is also off to a bit of a slow start.
The Falcons have wins over Redmond and South Salem, but they've had losses to Oregon City, West Albany and Beaverton sandwiched between. Head coach Ryan Raagas said his team is also struggling with putting together the pieces of a somewhat unfamiliar team.
"We've struggled to get comfortable so far with a lot of new faces in the lineup," Raagas said. "We've seen some flashes of quality play, but it's been inconsistent, and we're working through what gives us the best lineup as we get into league play."
The Falcons coach said they'll look to shortstop Xavier Womack and centerfielder Keenan Frye to lead.
"They bring three-sport experience and understand what it takes to compete at the high school level," he said.
In addition to Womack and Frye, Raagas pointed to freshman Reid Linkmeyer and sophomore Tanner Steinbach as exciting newcomers and said that neither have appeared "overmatched at the varsity level so far." He added that much of the team brings speed to the table and that they'll use that speed to try and create havoc on the basepaths for opposing defenses.
Raagas did however point out that pitching is a bit of a question mark for his team. Still, he thinks they're not devoid of talent — just experience.
"There are a lot of unknowns there," the coach said. "We feel good about what some of our guys can give us, but we just haven't seen it at the varsity level yet. How quickly we can get through the growing pains there will be a big factor in our team success as the season progresses."
And their goal? Simple — make the playoffs. Raagas knows that won't be easy, but he believes it to be possible if they do things the right way.
"We've got quite the challenge in front of us to achieve it with a lot of inexperienced players," the Liberty coach said. "But with that inexperience comes a hunger to get there, that we're hoping translates into competitive play and enough wins to warrant the opportunity.
"We're certainly not where we want to be after one week, but have seen glimpses of a team that can compete for that chance."
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