Truckee baseball off to stormy start
Spring training has been a little more like winter training this year for the Truckee High baseball team.
“This winter is really messing us up with the field time,” said Mike Ellis, head Truckee High baseball coach. “We haven’t even played a league game yet.”
With an onslaught of spring storms burying Truckee’s fields under a thick blanket of snow, Mother Nature seems to be bullying the Wolverines for the second straight year.
“It just sucks because we play one game and then we don’t play another for like two weeks because of the snow,” said Jason Chapman, a senior second baseman and outfielder who transferred to Truckee earlier this year from Mendocino County.
The Wolverines are dealing with their wintry situation like the other Truckee spring sports teams. They squeeze into the gym, where they set up batting stations and artificial mounds for the pitchers. Although it’s not the same as practicing on an actual baseball field, the Wolverines know how to make the most of the limited early-season practice opportunities.
“We definitely know how to transfer our skills in (the gym) onto the field,” said Ben Tonon, a senior who figures to be the team’s ace pitcher when not playing in the outfield. “We’re pretty used to it, so I don’t think it will affect us at all.”
Senior outfielder Kevin Flynn hopes the team’s adaptability will make up for the canceled and postponed games.
“We’re coming around, for sure,” he said. “We have a lot of talent, but it doesn’t help having six games canceled. So right now it’s kind of hard to get into the rhythm of things when you have a game every two weeks.”
John Hooper, a senior pitcher and outfielder, is not worried.
“I think we have a lot of talent. We just need to put it together,” Hooper said. “We definitely have some strong veteran players back this year.”
Truckee also is dealing with the loss of its entire infield to graduation. But not to worry, they say, as this year’s crew of infielders are solid.
At first base, Ellis plans to start junior Brendan Driscoll, he said. At second base will be Chapman, at shortstop junior Andrew Mazzini, third base senior Morgan Harvey and behind the plate senior Scott Decker. The outfield will be filled with Tonon, Hooper and Flynn, among others when the starters are shuffled around.
As far as pitching, Tonon, Hooper and sophomore Kevin Sahlberg should be the main starters, Ellis said. Others taking a turn on the mound will be juniors Paco Ruiz and Devin Shurtleff, senior Daniel Cramer, Harvey and Mazzini.
“We’re all on the same page, and we know what we want. We want to go to the state championship,” Ellis said.
“I think we have a good chance to make zones, and from there I think we can step up and make state. We have as much talent or more than anyone in league.”
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The two-time defending state champion Truckee baseball team opened league play in style this weekend, taking a three-game sweep of Sparks.