Lakeridge baseball believes it's ready to battle in the Three Rivers League
It's all about competing for the Lakeridge baseball team.
The Pacers want to compete every day, every game, every play and every pitch.
And they know that if they do, the 2017 season will turn out just the way they want it to.
"Our goal is to compete every day and get into the top four (in the Three Rivers League) and then into the playoffs," said Lakeridge coach Marco Tavera, whose team tied for second place in the TRL last year and eventually lost in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
There's reason to believe those goals are attainable, too, even though the team must replace graduated catcher Dutton Elske — the TRL and Class 6A Player of the Year — and fellow TRL first-team pitcher Jesse Davis.
In their stead, the Pacers will call on senior third baseman Beau Bryant (a returning first-team all-TRL and honorable mention all-state pick), senior first baseman Tommy Andrew (a 2016 Honorable Mention pick in the TRL), senior shortstop/pitcher/outfielder Everest Webster and senior outfielder Cal Seneker. The Pacers also hope to get senior outfielder Kyle Beckley (a second-team all-TRL pick last year) back by the end of the year; he is still recovering from a football season injury.
Bryant, the team's leadoff hitter and a three-year starter, is counted on to make the Pacers' offense go.
"We're expecting big, things from that guy this year," Tavera said. "As Beau goes, we go."
But it's not just Bryant that will fuel the Pacers' success this season. Tavera expressed confidence in all his senior leaders.
"Our whole senior class is really pretty good," Tavera said. "Beau, Tommy and Everest are our more vocal leaders, and Cal Seneker is a guy that just does it with the way he works. Those are our top leaders."
The Pacers' pitching rotation will be led by senior right-hander Josh Robins, a transfer from Australia who has already committed to Loyola Marymount University and also runs track. Joining Robins will be Webster, Andrew, junior righty Chris Simons, freshman Cooper Justice, freshman Brody Veater and sophomore Tyler Sloan.
Around the infield, the Pacers will look to senior catcher Brendon Sloan, Andrew at first, senior Clint Smith at second, Webster and sophomore Hayden Moore at shortstop, and Bryant at third. And in the outfield, it will be Seneker, sophomore Colin Hardy, Webster and junior Harrison Brown.
Also due for varsity time are junior pitcher/infielder Hunter Paulson, junior pitcher/infielder Connor Utech and junior infielder/outfielder Kohl Sykes.
"We tell our kids every year that our goal is to win a league championship," Tavera said. "It's been a long time since that's happened and it's something the guys really want to do."
In the coming Three Rivers League race, Tavera said he expects West Linn to be the favorite, with Tigard and Sherwood as the other teams most likely to challenge the Lions.
To see the West Linn team preview, click here.