Truckee baseball, softball players swing into spring season | SierraSun.com

Truckee baseball, softball players swing into spring season

It's been some time since the Truckee baseball and softball teams have put together a winning season, but a new year brings renewed hope and expectations for two programs that haven't finished above .500 since 2012.

With their home fields still covered in snow and ice, the Wolverines took to the diamond last week for the first games of the year, as a pair of squads look to reignite once powerful programs.

Last year the baseball team went 8-20 and finished in seventh place within the Class 3A Northern League. The team graduated seven seniors off that squad, and this year will rely on four key seniors.

The squad had their first schedule scrimmages snowed out, but did manage to play nine innings in Dayton, Nev.

"I'm pretty pleased with our effort so far," said Coach Jeff Murphy. "Over the scrimmage I thought our pitchers did a good job. Hitting is coming around, it's not where we want yet, but we definitely have a good, optimistic outlook of what we could do."

The Wolverines then opened the year with 27-4 loss to Class 4A Reno on Thursday, March 8, but the team went on to win four straight games at the Mike Bearman Tournament in Reno during the weekend to improve to 4-1 overall.

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A big strength of the Wolverines this year, according to Murphy, will be on the mound. Truckee has the ability to trot out nine different pitchers, giving the squad a lot of flexibility.

"I've got a plethora of guys that basically just pound the strike zone," said Murphy. "I feel confident that I've got quite a few pitchers that can really throw strikes."

Leading the way on the mound will be Truckee's best pitcher from a season ago, senior Gary Grosjean. Fellow senior Colin Just is also expected to shoulder the workload.

The Wolverines will also return one of their best bats from a year ago in junior Marcus Bellon. According to Murphy, the team has a trio of transfer students who have stood out in the early goings of the season as well.

Building a program

Second-year Head Coach Ashley McKechnie played for Truckee softball during the late 2000s, and after taking over the struggling program last year, the Truckee coach is looking to turn the dormant program into a Class 3A powerhouse.

"We're really trying to build the Truckee softball program," McKechnie said. "We want to build something, we're trying to get the community out to our games … more or less we're trying to build a big program here."

The girls went 3-25 last year, but return a handful of players who are looking to make in impact in their final season.

"We have a good crew. We have five returning seniors that I'm really excited about. I've been working with them for the last three years, and they've shown great promise and great dedication to the team," said McKechnie, who coached one year of junior varsity as well.

"They are a group of girls that function well as a team … they all kind of mesh well together. I'm really excited about this year's seniors coming together."

The girls will be led by senior pitcher Sierra Bohnet, who will be expected to shoulder the majority of the innings during the upcoming season.

"Sierra is super consistent and keeps the pace of the game going," said McKechnie. "Sierra is looking to get in there, put it over the plate, and let our defense work. She's not one to pitch around … she's super focused out there getter her team going."

Behind the plate senior catcher Daelyn Borden will be the calming force for the squad. Borden came in at catcher last season in an emergency and shined. She'll now take over fulltime duties behind the dish.

"She's the one who leads the team on the field, sets out the plays on the field, she's the one calling what's happening next," McKechnie said. "She's ready to throw someone out at any given chance. She's all aggression all the time, and I really feel like that's going to help our season."

The infield will be led by senior third baseman Amelia Strusinski, who will enter her second season playing the position.

"Coming into the hot corner can be really intimidating especially because we're so close to the plate compared to a baseball field, but Amelia just sucks it up," McKechnie said. "She's ready to take it in and make the out — super aggressive and is out there to make the out."

In the outfield, senior Stephanie Randall will be expected to chase down any ball she can get, and according to her coach, that often means laying out to make a play.

"She's never on her feet because she constantly diving for anything in her range," said McKechnie. "If one's hit to left center, she's already there before the left fielder gets there. She's the best defensive player I've had in the past three years."

The girls opened the year last weekend at a tournament in Yerington and went 0-3, but showed improvement in each contest. And though the team dropped their opening games, McKechnie is excited about the program's future.

"To build Truckee softball is our end goal," she said. "We really want to get softball out there and make it a really exciting experience for girls of all ages, so that by the time they get to high school they're already familiar with softball and our program.

"We're trying to get Truckee out to our games. Our first goal isn't to win games. Our first goal is to create young women leaders who can give back to our community."

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Truckee Sun. Contact him at jscacco@truckeesun.com.