March 11, 2008

Panther baseball season begins

RHS baseball players ready their field for a new season.
-- photo by Gary Newman/copyright Redmond Spokesman

It's time to reload Panther baseball.
Redmond High School has made the playoffs 12 consecutive years, including semifinal appearances in 1999 and in 2006. The only last time they didn't make the playoffs was 1996.
They hope to make another run this year.
"It's a good one, a lot of depth," said Coach Marc Horner. "The lineup could change on a daily basis. You can look in the dugout and not see a single one you wouldn't put at the plate."
The team returns a strong bullpen, including second-team all-league pitcher Tyler Rucinsky; Cody Johnson, a CVC honorable mention; and Jared Young. The bull pen will also include Cody Smith, a transfer from The Dalles; Bub Wark and Alex Callen.
"I have confidence in all of them," said Horner. "As long as they throw strikes, we have a solid defense."
Rucinsky had at ERA of 3.72 last year.
The Panthers should also have a strong presence at the plate. Bo Guthrie, a first-team CVC selection and third-team all-state, hit .414 last year and has a .638 slugging percentage. At second base he had a fielding percentage of .859.
He will be wearing Horner's number eight this year – an honor that only goes to player who can hit their way in.
"If they want (the number) eight, they have to hit .400," said Horner, who has worn that number his whole baseball career.
Other bats include Johnson, who had a .307 average last year and hit three home runs. Third baseman Steven Bigelow hit .342 last year, including two home runs, six doubles and a triple.
Tanner Hase, who is coming back from shoulder surgery, will play first base. He had a .990 fielding average playing catcher and first base last year. Moving Hase to first because of the injury leaves a hole at catcher and Horner said he may move freshman Jack Branham into that spot.
Also slated for time in the infield are Cody Smith at third, Kyle Wattenburger at shortstop, Jake Bulkley at second and in the outfield Wark and Callen at first.
The outfield will include Young and Jordan Varneau in right field, Mike Peplin and Christian Welsh at center field and Kiefer Palm, Nate Aeschliman and Rucinsky in left field.
Horner sees a lot of parity in the league.
"This year it's anybody," he said, naming West Salem, Sprague, South Salem and Redmond as possible contenders. "I don't really pick anybody. I'd like to think it was us."
The players have a definite pick – Redmond.
"Take the league title," said Johnson when asked about this season's goals, adding that they want to take a shot at the state title, too.
They also have some ideas about what it will take.
"Show up every game," said Hase, noting that the Panthers lost several games they shouldn't have last year.
Redmond starts league play March 19 when they host McNary. The CVC plays a three-game schedule.

-- story by Gary G. Newman

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