‘Jacks Look To Improve Record
When you talk about Valley High School sports, most of the talk is about football. But now you hear some talk about baseball. That’s because for the past several seasons, Valley Head Coach Jim West has laid the foundation with his team and should benefit quite nicely this season.
West has veteran Assistant Coach Steve Ingold at his side and they return nine players that have seen plenty of action, including three-year senior lettermen Alex Henderson, Cody Bates, Phillip Bassett, Cameron Price and Cody Bassett.
Henderson was the ‘Jacks’ top pitcher last season, along with proven starter Phillip Bassett. These two guys won five of the Lumberjacks’ eight victories and will be able to save their arms with the addition of Cameron Price, Drew Wade, Collin Bates, Tristen Kocher and Brandon Stoneking seeking time on the rubber.
Henderson, when not on the mound, will play either short or second base, depending who is pitching. He batted .324 with one home run and knocked in 16 base runners. Bates is the team’s catcher when he isn’t pitching and will see some time at third base. He is a solid .300 hitter and plated 21 runners a season ago.
Phillip Bassett is the team’s number two pitcher who will also play outfield. He puts the ball in play and bats close to .290 and will help close some games from the rubber. Cody Bassett will play first base and batted .250 with eight RBI’s a season ago. He has worked hard over the past several seasons and, if he can improve even more at the plate, watch out. Price plays at right fielder and will see a lot more action from the mound than he has in the past.
Juniors Drew Wade and Hunter Ring are both two-year starters. Wade will be used as a utility player and will start at several positions, including some innings on the rubber. He batted near .300 for the 2010 season with a home run and plating 10. Ring is the starting centerfielder and has solidified the outfield with his speed and ability to catch anything he can get a glove on.
Two returning sophomore lettermen that will also see plenty of action are Brock Stackpole and Albert McGuane. Stackpole looks to hold down the hot corner, while getting some innings from the mound. As a freshman last year, he batted over .250. With a year under his belt, he could play a major role in the team’s success. McGuane saw a lot of action at the mound as a freshman a season ago, and could be Valley’s diamond-in-the-rough if he continues to improve his overall stats.
Another sophomore, Collin Bates, is out for the first time and will see some innings in the outfield. Also out for the team are freshmen Triston Kocher, Caleb Palmer, Stoneking and Chase West.
“We are looking forward to a great season,” said West. “It has been tough the last several years for our program, but we have seen progress over the last two seasons.
“This is the most overall talent that we have had since I’ve been coaching. We return nine players who saw a lot of action over the last few seasons. With the addition of five first-year players, we will have 14 good ball players competing for each position. The attitude on our team is outstanding and we hope to get our program going in the right direction.”
The Lumberjacks will play the Cameron Dragons, sectional champs the past several years, in Cameron tonight at 5:30 p.m. They will host county rival Hundred April 1 at 5 p.m. and Bellaire St. John in a double header April 2 at noon.