This summer is about development for Newberg Abby's baseball. As the American Legion team begins anew, a group comprised of Newberg Tiger baseball players sees promise in the results of a summer season in which it has gone 4-9 so far.
The Newberg High School varsity squad finished 4-22 this spring and had minimal experience. With nearly all of its contributors returning next season, the summer will be crucial in the program's ascent, said coach Trey Watt, who oversees the Newberg Abby's team as well.
"I've seen a lot of growth," he said. "We're really starting to come together as a group and expect to play at a high level. The guys have set that standard of excellence high for themselves and it's good to see that. As coaches, we know we have a talented group. It's just a matter of them producing."
Last week, Newberg Abby's competed in the Northwest Invitational Ttournament at Jesuit High School in Portland.
They went 2-2 in the tourney, dropping the first two games 7-4 to Jesuit and 4-2 to Columbia River. Newberg capped off the week by beating Lincoln 3-0 and Liberty 11-0 – the latter game took just five innings to wrap up due to mercy rule.
Watt said he was proud of the character the team showed in the final two games of the tournament, showcasing its ability to respond to adverse results. He added that the players are optimistic about how they've competed with the likes of Jesuit and other top teams. The Crusaders won the 2019 state championship in baseball.
"In the tournament, we played pretty tight in the first two games," Watt said. "We gave 13 free passes to the other team in those first two games, which shows you that – if we played well – we probably would've won both. We just didn't pitch as well or play good enough defense to win those first two."
Newberg's opponents have included some top American Legion teams from around the Northwest, along with other club teams that happen to include some college players and graduated seniors.
Although their record is a few games below .500, the level of competition and lessons learned from the losses are invaluable, Watt said.
"It's impacted them greatly as far as their competitive spirit," he added. "When they compete against those guys, they understand that they're capable of competing at a really high level. Against a team like Jesuit, we had a real chance, and that's a confidence booster."
Among the leaders on the diamond this summer has been incoming senior Kyler Erion, who Watt said has been pitching "phenomenally" after seeing limited varsity innings this spring.
Connor Hale, entering his junior year, is hitting in the three-spot for Newberg Abby's and is up over .400 on the summer.
Incoming senior Weston Vaughn is a key component in the leadoff spot as well, and Watt said he can "play anywhere" defensively.
Leaving the team's struggles in the past and moving forward into a new era remains the focus as Abby's enters the thick of its summer schedule.
The team hopes to be good representatives for the city of Newberg in the future and elicit pride from fans and alumni by having a defined identity.
"This is a very blue collar team," Watt said. "That's the identity we want because we're representing our community in that way.
"Our community is blue collar and works hard, and that's what we want people to think of this team."
Abby's travels to Canby High School on Wednesday (June 26) for a 2 p.m. duel with the Cougars before returning home to face Reynolds at 1 p.m. Saturday.
On Sunday, the team is slated to face Mountainside on the road, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.
After that, it has a trio of home games against Southridge and West Linn on July 1-2.
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