Warriors looking to get back to state | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Warriors looking to get back to state

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

You didn’t expect Don Amaral to whine, did you?

Defending Nevada 2A state baseball champion Battle Mountain was added to the Northern Division during the off-season, not that it makes any difference to Amaral, the Warriors’ fourth-year manager. Amaral welcomes the competition and is confident that his club can contend for the league title that got away from his young group last year.

“The league is going to be very tough with Battle Mountain coming in and they are loaded from their state championship team, losing one player,” said Amaral, whose Warriors won a state title two seasons ago. “Our motto is to win 20, finish first or second in zone and return to state.”

Considering the Warriors’ graduation losses started and ceased with catcher Brett Schussel, the team’s goals look well within reach.

An average season by Whittell’s standards — 17-17 and third in the Northern 2A League — inspired the Warriors in the offseason.

“Reality kicked in that we needed to try a lot harder,” Whittell seniorIan Jacobsen said. “After winning state our junior year, we thought we were on easy street. We lost five guys from the (championship) team and didn’t realize how much harder we’d have to work.”

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As a result, many of the team’s veterans spent more time in the weight room and supplemented their spring and summer baseball routine by playing fall ball.

The Warriors’ pitching rotation remains in tact, with first-team all-league Travis Purdy the staff’s ace. The deep staff also includes Jacobsen; Tyson Frederick; Chris Pavich; and Chris Shapiro, who as a sophomore is already drawing comparisons to former WHS all-stater Brandon “The General” Lee.

“We should pitch and field real well,” Amaral said. “It’s early, but I think we have a good nucleus of unity on this ball team.”

The strong pitching was evident in the Warriors’ two-hit shutout of Smith Valley in a scrimmage on Tuesday. Purdy, Pavich, Shapiro and Jacobsen all pitched during the 5-0 victory.

Four expected starters missed the scrimmage on Tuesday because of either grade issues or disciplinary action.

Key starters in the infield are first baseman Tyler Corey, shortstop Chris Shapiro and third baseman Pavich. Purdy and Frederick will form two-thirds of the outfield when they aren’t pitching.

The extra game time in the fall may benefit the Warriors chiefly at the plate, according to Jacobsen.

“Last year we were little more intimidated. This year we have more experience and we’re just hitting the ball really well,” Jacobsen said.

Based on how he’s hitting going into Friday’s season opener in Yerington, Corey is the club’s most feared hitter. After missing part of last season because of tissue damage in his knee, Corey has been ripping shots all over Lampe Park.

“In batting practice (Monday) he was just pounding the ball. Out of 20 balls, 15 of them must have gone 350 to 400 feet,” said Amaral of Corey, who has committed to play for College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, Calif., next season.

Amaral also likes how Pavich is swinging the bat. In the fact, the junior reminds him of one of the school’s all-time greats.

“He’s a right-handed Thomas Hunter with the same compact swing,” Amaral said.

Joining the team for the first time is football and basketball star Jake Summers.

“The fun thing about Whittell is when kids come out who have never played (high school) baseball it challenges the coaching staff to get them ready to play,” Amaral said.

Summers’ crash course on baseball won’t last long.

“Jake will be in the starting lineup somewhere,” Amaral said.

Whittell will open Friday with a noon matchup against Lovelock at Yerington High, then head over to play at ROP at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Warriors are scheduled to play Yerington at 10:30 a.m. and Smith Valley at 1:30 p.m. at Yerington High.

Whittell fans should mark April 5 on their calendars. That is when defending state champion Battle Mountain visits Lampe Park for a doubleheader.

“We’ve never lost to Battle Mountain and we had to beat them twice (at state in 2001). They’ll be gunning for us this year and it’s just going to make it a little more fun,” Jacobsen said.

WHS Schedule

3/7 Lovelock (at Yerington) noon

ROP (at Yerington tourney) 4:30 p.m.

3/8 At Yerington 10:30 a.m.

Smith Valley (at Yerington) 1:30 p.m.

3/11 VIRGINIA CITY 3 p.m.

3/13 NORTH TAHOE 3 p.m.

3/15 COLEVILLE Noon

3/18 At Virginia City 3 p.m.

3/22 LOVELOCK (DH) Noon

3/25 At Smith Valley 3 p.m.

3/29 At W. Wendover (DH) Noon

4/1 At Dayton 3 p.m.

4/5 BATTLE MOUNTAIN (DH) Noon

4/8 At North Tahoe 3 p.m.

4/12 At Silver Stage (DH) Noon

4/15 SMITH VALLEY 3 p.m.

4/17 At Incline (DH) Noon

4/29 DAYTON 3 p.m.

5/3 At Hawthorne (DH) Noon

5/9-10 Zone tournament TBA

5/15-17 State tournament TBA

Note: Opponent in ALL CAPS are home games. Home games are played at Lampe Park in Gardnerville

Coach: Don Amaral, fourth year (64-42).

Last year: 17-17, 9-7 in Nevada Northern 2A (third place, zone runner-up).

Opener: Friday at Yerington Tournament.

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