Truckee baseball: Wolverines solid across the diamond in ’09
Truckee head coach Mike Ellis is not taking for granted his team’s intangible qualities.
Much to the coach’s delight, the Wolverines entered the 2009 season a tight-knit group with a positive attitude and, perhaps most importantly, a pitching staff that’s nine players deep.
“It’s huge,” Ellis said, talking about the advantage of having nine capable pitchers in a league that schedules three games in two days. “I’ve got so many pitchers that I feel bad because I can’t get them all in the game.”
About the team’s makeup, Ellis said he’s never had a squad with better camaraderie.
“It’s the most tightly grouped team I’ve ever had,” he said. “They don’t fight, they listen, they want to learn and they want to win ” and that’s a beautiful thing.”
Senior pitcher and shortstop Justin Vosburgh will take on the role as the Wolverines’ No. 1 starter. Junior Maclane Brady is Truckee’s No. 2 pitcher, and Ryan Zusy and Scott Mathot are battling for the No. 3 spot in the rotation, Ellis said.
“Our strength is going to be our pitching,” said Vosburgh, who came on strong as Truckee’s No. 2 hurler last year. “We still have speed, but definitely not like last year. It’s going to be pitching and defense this year.”
Speed was the name of Truckee’s game in 2008, when the Wolverines rode their small-ball style of play to the state championship tournament before bowing out with consecutive losses.
“We want to make it back to state and hopefully go farther this year,” said Vosburgh, who added in the offseason a cut fastball and a changeup to his repertoire of pitches. “Everyone is working hard, so I think we have a chance at it.”
Ellis exuded confidence as he watched his players go to work on different stations set up in the school gym Monday.
“We’ve got talent, we’ve got a ton of pitchers and we’ve got power ” the guys just haven’t shown it yet,” Ellis said, raising his voice over the clangs of contact from the batting cage.
“And we’ve got the best catcher (Kevin Decker) in Nevada and the best pitcher (Vosburgh) in the league.”
Indeed, Decker plays his position well, routinely blocking balls in the dirt and giving his pitchers confidence to break off curveballs with men on base. The senior also puts the bat on the ball and runs the bases like a natural, Ellis said.
Decker, too, likes the look of this year’s squad.
“We’re a lot farther ahead than last year as far as defense. Our hitting just needs to come around,” he said. “The kids are working hard in practice when we get on a field, taking advantage of it. Last year we didn’t take advantage of our field time.”
The feeling between players and coach is mutual in that, like usual, the hitting part of Truckee’s game will start slowly and come around as the team faces more live pitching.
“We’re trying to get our bats going. We’re getting there,” Ellis said. “We always get off to a slow start, but they’re catching on.”
The sky is the limit from there, the coach said.
“I have a great squad here. We’ll be back in the state championship. Whether we finish fourth or first is up to these guys.”