St. Helens baseball staying positive despite delay to season
Joe Rea's return to the St. Helens baseball team has been sadly put on pause, but that by no means equates to the Lions' season going up in smoke.
Per Governor Brown's announcement regarding statewide school closures, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) extended the suspension of interscholastic practices and contests for sports and activities for all member schools through April 28 due to the spread of COVID-19. The news, while deflating, especially for the 11 Lion seniors who hoped to jump into the spring season full bore, wasn't all bad. Postponement doesn't mean cancelation. The OSAA is leaving the door open for a spring season with its decision. There is still hope. And, if and when this season gets underway, Rea and company will be raring to hit the diamond to make up for the lost time.
"We're focusing on the positive, that we may just get a chance to play this spring instead of the negative," St. Helens head coach Jeff Timmons said. "I feel really bad for the large group of 11 seniors we had on our roster this year. I know we all will be ok. I know that all these boys will come out of this stronger people and will be productive parts of their community. I'm not sure how the season starting will look but anything will be a blessing at this point."
With such a senior-heavy group, Timmons believes they are a little more self-motivated than most. They're not putting their feet up and letting the season go by the wayside, even though St. Helens and the rest of high school athletic activities are forbidden from putting on organized team activities. Timmons also has three seniors and a few juniors that are going to play at the collegiate level, so they have a little more drive to keep in shape. They won't let their skills erode or their conditioning dissipate. Like most teams around the state waiting for the go-ahead, the Lions won't be caught flat-footed should the season commence. Rea was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore at St. Helens, transferred to Sherwood for his junior season and then came back to the Lions for his final high school season. He's a big bat in the heart of the order, another starting pitcher in the rotation and a defensively stout middle infielder. The St. Helens shortstop hit .448 and led the team with four triples and 15 RBIs as a sophomore. The leadoff batter, Rea stole 15 bases in conference games and earned first-team all NWOC honors. He's a three-year letterman, the rare player who plays varsity ball in each of his high school seasons.
And there is plenty of talent around the all-state selection. Junior catcher Jacobi Allen had one of the best on-base percentages in the Northwest Oregon Conference last year. As a sophomore, Allen was a co-captain. Junior pitcher Kaleb Edwards showed off ace potential at times last year. Edwards mans the middle of the infield when he's not on the bump. He, in the same vein as Allen, gets on base at a high clip. Seniors such as Garrett Harris, Jackson Hald, Jared Hora and others played extensively last spring. The Lions lost just four seniors off last year's team that won five NWOC games. Add a difference maker like Rea into the mix and the win total will mushroom, so long as some kind of season takes place. Even with the upheaval, even with the uncertainty of just what a season will look like, Timmons said his expectations are still as high as they were when preseason practice began.
"There is no change, we want to battle for a league title and make a run into the playoffs," Timmons said.
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