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Culver Bulldog baseball team practicing indoors with new head coach Joey Graves.

STEELE HAUGEN - Left to right, Brody Little, Justice Loredo, Cord Gomes and Kyler Cox, listen to new coach Joey Graves about how to lead off when you are on base.The baseball team made the state playoffs for the first time since 2001 last season, under former coach and current athletic director Shea Little. The coach taking over for Little is Joey Graves.

"I am pretty pleased with the team we have so far," Graves said. "We have 18 kids out, five seniors and a handful of returners and from what I have heard from other coaches and players, we are going to compete this year."

"Our goal is to compete for that state title this year," he said. "My coaching style is just making sure the kids learn the game and use these skills to be able to apply them to life after baseball."

"We are trying to promote active members of our community and outstanding citizens," he added.

Graves has been a baseball coach since 2011 and spent most of his coaching time at Redmond High School. He started as a freshman coach in 2012, but moved to a varsity assistant coach from 2014-17. This will be his first year at Culver. He is a special ed and social studies teacher at the high school.

"We have been getting after it in the gym," Graves said. "It is unfortunate to have all this snow, but all of Central Oregon is dealing with it. We've just got to make sure we don't take any minute for granted and understand we need to get better. The team is working on the little things and overall, just getting better each day."

The Bulldogs finished the season with a 10-9 overall record, 6-3 in league play. Culver was able to make the state playoffs despite losing a play-in game last season. Culver was ranked No. 11 and with their high ranking, the team played Kennedy in the first round of the state playoffs.

Culver had a 4-1 lead at the bottom of the sixth inning, but a four-error inning cost the Bulldogs, and Culver lost 7-4.

STEELE HAUGEN - Tadd Anderson and Kyler Cox warm-up in the gym. They are both looking to make a big impact this season.Senior Tadd Anderson is returning this year and earned first-team honors for Culver in the 2018 season for his skill in the infield. Culver graduated first-team pitcher, Cole Little, but still have senior Joe Russo and junior Justice Loredo returning this season. They both earned honorable mention for Culver.

"We have quite a few seniors this year, which should make things interesting," Anderson said. "The team has some good freshmen coming in and we didn't really lose too many seniors, but we still need to fill that second base spot."

"I think we can make the state playoffs again this year," he said. "We lost a pretty good pitcher last year (Cole Little), so that will definitely be a struggle, but I think we have it in us."

"We have the new coach and he seems to know what he is talking about," said Anderson. "Inside (not being able to practice outside) is a struggle, but we are doing pretty good with everything. It is hard, but the team is really focused and has been getting a lot of good workouts in."

The baseball team was supposed to travel to Heppner on March 12, but the game was canceled due to the snow. The program is trying to keep their games for their upcoming tournament in Grant Union this Friday and Saturday, but Grant Union High School is not sure they can remove all the snow in time.

Their first home game is scheduled for March 20.

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