The Newberg High School baseball team is under new leadership this season as coach Trey Watt takes over. The Tigers were 2-24 last season and are hoping to improve as they transition into the Pacific Conference.
Watt previously coached as an assistant at George Fox University and University of Portland. His full-time job at NHS is in the special education department.
Watt said a lot of the players from last year's Tigers team have either left the program or graduated, so there will be plenty of new faces on the diamond. The leaders of the team, he said, are not yet defined.
"Our players, our community and myself have high expectations in terms of respecting each other and showing integrity," Watt explained. "If we take care of those things, the win-loss column should take care of itself. I look for all of our guys to be strong leaders, but I haven't seen them play a game yet so I don't know who will stand out."
Newberg opens its season March 14 with a road game at Madison, followed by a home game against Wilson on March 20. After that, the Tigers will play in the Tigard Tournament March 23-27 before Pacific Conference play starts.
Newberg High softball is just as young as its counterparts in baseball, but with a more defined set of senior leaders and optimism that its offense could prove dangerous.
Half of the girls who showed up for tryouts were freshmen, coach Angela Stutzman said. Thankfully, she added, many of the new girls in the program have been playing together at the youth level for years, so a foundation of chemistry exists. Still, this season will include plenty of lessons for a young squad.
"There's definitely a learning curve, for sure," Stutzman said. "Hopefully our upperclassmen are going to be able to pass on some information and quiet (the freshmen's) nerves. This team is coming in competitive and ready to roll, though, so I'm really excited for our first games."
Newberg only had four total practices as of Monday night due to recent weather conditions, and Stutzman said tryouts were only completed at the end of last week. That doesn't leave much practice time between now and their season opener March 12 at Lake Oswego. Stutzman, however, is confident that the team can get off to a solid start thanks to its offensive abilities.
"I think we'll be really competitive offensively this year," she said. "It's been interesting to see the adjustments some of the returners have made as well as what the freshmen bring to the table. Those hot bats are going to benefit us this year."
Seniors Samantha Teran and Zimri Lemonds will be the leaders in the clubhouse this season, with sophomore pitcher Breanna Hilton expected to shoulder the majority of the load in the circle. After the Lake Oswego game, Newberg will play a trio of home games against Grant, Central and South Salem on March 13, 15 and 18, respectively.
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