The St. Helens High School baseball season got off to a rough start, but head baseball coach Jeff Timmons is not at all discouraged.
St. Helens started the season April 13 at Milwaukie/Milwaukie Academy of the Arts, where the Lions lost 4-3.
Timmons said the opening game, however, stretched into nine innings. (Regulation high school games in Oregon are seven innings.)
"It was a great game," Timmons said. "You could see rust by both squads. I think we just made a few more critical mistakes in the base running part. That kind of cost us that game."
The Lions played Milwaukie again, two days later, on the Lions home field, but lost 13-3. Timmons says the game was closer than the final score would suggest.
"It was another 4-3 game going into the seventh, another tight game," Timmons said.
Next up was a home-and-away series with what Timmons called the best team in the league, Rex Putnam.
"We hung in there the first game with them, then they kind of made us look foolish (14-2 loss) in the next game," he added.
The Lions' record, at press time, was 0-5.
Assessing this year's team, Timmons described a lack of varsity members.
"We only have two guys that have any substantial varsity experience," Timmons said. "We're young in a sense that we just don't have a lot of varsity experience. We have a lot of seniors, a few of them that haven't played since they were in eighth grade."
Timmons said that offensively, there are a couple of standouts on the team: Jacobi Allen and Cody McKay.
"Jacobi is our main catcher," Timmons said. "I think he's played about five or six different positions on the field for us. He has pitched the most innings for us, as well. He's been playing really well."
Timmons added, "He and Cody actually have identical stat lines, almost all the way across the board."
He's not kidding. As of press time, Jacobi and McKay were both hitting .412 on the season. They both have seven hits and five singles. They both have a double, and both have a triple.
"Those guys have been kind of a spark plug for us," said Timmons.
According to Timmons, Neil Wolfe has been another effective batter who has done a great job of scoring runs when runners have been in scoring position.
Timmons said, "We hit really well with runners in scoring position, we just haven't got runners to scoring position as much as we need to."
Despite a pandemic-shortened baseball season this year, Timmons is pleased players have had time to practice.
"We had six practices before our first game," Timmons said. "We had some pre-season workouts, but for official practices, we only had six before our first game."
Timmons continued, "We play three a week, so we're only getting two practices a week, as well. Practice time has been kind of minimal, but we kind of take each game as a chance to improve."
Looking ahead, Timmons said, "I'm really proud of the way the guys keep playing. They keep hustling. They keep battling. I'm trying to get as many guys out there to play as I can."
Timmons added, "I think things are going to get better for us, and we're going to continue to work hard."
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