Sure, the Sherwood High School baseball team may have a bit of a different look this year.
But the Bowmen will look to be competitive once again as they make their debut in the Pacific Conference.
Sherwood graduated a group of key players from last year's squad that finished in fourth place in the final Three Rivers League standings at 11-6 (18-10 overall), including TRL Pitcher of the Year Riley Aggson. But, with 13 seniors on the roster, including some solid returnees, the Bowmen are looking to be competitive again.
"We have high expectations for our team this year, as is the case every year," Sherwood coach Nate Hickok said. "Our goal will be to win at least two games every series, regardless of the opponent. If we can accomplish that goal, it will be a successful season."
Among the key returnees for the Bowmen is senior Anthony Garrett, who is in his fourth year as Sherwood's starting shortstop. Last year, Garrett was a first-team All-Three Rivers League pick as an infielder. He also could be crucial on the mound this year for the Bowmen, as he was an honorable-mention all-league pick as a pitcher last year.
Senior center fielder Sage Dunaway also returns. Last year, he was an honorable-mention all-TRL pick in the outfield. He'll also serve as a starting pitcher this year.
The Bowmen return another key pitcher in senior Braden Thorn. Last year, when he mainly pitched in a relief role, Thorn was an honorable-mention all-league pick. He should move into the starting rotation this year.
"We expect major contributions from all of our returning players, but Anthony Garrett, Sage Dunaway and Braden Thorn especially," Hickok said. "All three were strong for us last year and have made great individual progress this off-season."
Other returnees from last year's Sherwood varsity include seniors Noah Beeks, Ryan Sandilands, Jacob Cole and Tyler Hix and junior Kade Emmons.
Newcomers to the Bowmen varsity include seniors Harrison Goyette, Keegan Kemper, Christian Goyer, Caden Snelling, James Hanson and Everett Moore, juniors Kaedin Steindorf and Joe Rea, sophomores Jackson Hannan and Eli Holbert and freshman Ian Umlandt.
"Our biggest strengths this year are definitely our pitching and defensive versatility," Hickok said. "We have a lot of quality depth on the mound and feel comfortable and confident in all of our guys. Defensively, we have several players who are strong at multiple positions and give us a lot of lineup flexibility. As far as weaknesses, I don't think our hitting is a weakness, but we're working really hard to improve in that area."
As for the Pacific Conference this season, Hickok isn't quite sure what to expect in the new league.
I anticipate that Century and McMinnville will be the teams to beat, as they have both have had great success of late. However, we're not going to overlook anyone during the season," he said. "As far as where we stack up, I think we'll be right in the mix throughout the season. We graduated a lot of talented and experienced players who will be very difficult to replace, but we have a lot of competitors on our roster who are ready to prove themselves."
The Bowmen, behind some strong pitching, have gotten off to a 3-1 start to the season.
On Monday, Sherwood scored a 14-3 win over Green Mountain, Colo., during its Arizona spring break trip.
Emmons went 2 for 3 at the plate in the victory, with a pair of doubles, a run scored and three RBIs. Hix went 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored and three RBIs. Goyette went 2 for 2 with two walks, three runs scored and an RBI. Garrett went 2 for 4 with a double, a run scored and three RBIs. Sandilands scored three runs and Dunaway drove in two.
Dunaway, Moore and Holbert all pitched for Sherwood in the win.
The Bowmen will have single games Tuesday evening, Wednesday and Thursday on the trip. Sherwood will be back home on Tuesday to host Mountainside in a non-league game starting at 5 p.m.
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