The Whittell baseball team doesn’t have many pieces in its puzzle, but the Warriors are putting together a decent season with what they have.
Sometimes that means finishing a ballgame with two guys in the outfield, which is what happened Wednesday, or sometimes that means teaching a varsity starter the fundamentals of throwing and fielding. But believe it or not, the short-handed squad is piecing together a season that’s shaping up better than last year.
The Warriors finished 5-18 overall and 1-11 in league last year. This year, they’re off to a 4-4 start, two wins away from surpassing last year.
Behind the four wins and the upcoming season are four guys who are the heart of the Whittell baseball program.
Cody Gibson, Matt Elliot, Jake Sharp and Robbie Poet make up the Warriors starting rotation and the majority of baseball experience on the team.
“I have four kids on my team who have never played before,” coach Thomas Hunter said. “Cody, Matt, Jake and Robbie know how things should be going on the field so they help the new kids out a lot.”
Whittell’s rotation starts with Gibson, a left-hander with a smoking fastball. The senior has already thrown 16 strikeouts in two separate games and delivered some key hits from the fifth spot in the lineup.
Junior Matt Elliott is No. 2 in the starting rotation and a staple behind home plate when he’s not on the mound.
“With Matt being probably one of the best catchers around here people probably won’t steal on our pitchers,” Hunter said.
Sophomore Jake Sharp and senior Robbie Poet round out Whittell’s starting rotation.
“I don’t have too many power kids on the team besides Matt, Cody and Robbie, who can really put it to the fence. So we’re just going to play small ball and have some fun,” Hunter said.
Small ball coupled with fundamentals is Whittell’s best move, and the new head coach knows it.
“I told these kids last week, if we make less than four errors a game then we have a good chance of winning,” Hunter said.
Hunter knows what it takes to build a winning Whittell team. He was a Whittell baseball player himself not so long ago and helped lead his team to a state championship in 2001. It won’t happen overnight, but the new players who signed up this year, like Kody Dangtongdee, Alex Barnes, Chris Evans and Quinn Kixmiller, are a promising sign for the future. Hunter is impressed, and maybe even a little surprised, to see these kids already contributing big time.
“I’m surprised with Chris. He’s a freshman but he just makes contact every time,” Hunter said. “And we’ve got Kody Dangtongdee. He’s never played before, but he’s coming out and surprisingly hitting the ball and fielding the ball.”
Sharp is the Warriors’ leadoff guy, and Evans has already earned the No. 2 spot in the order. The lineup continues with Elliot, Poet, Gibson and Avery Laub. Laub is a clutch hitter for Whittell and their starting shortstop.
“Those are the guys I’m counting on to pretty much get on base every time,” Hunter said.
Henry Flores, Marcus Foerschler, Joset Armando Godoy make up the varsity roster.
“Hopefully everyone stays for a couple years and we’ll keep building the program,” Hunter said. “Right now we’re working with what we’ve got and hopefully these kids pick it up fast.”
UP NEXT: Whittell will play a Saturday doubleheader versus South Tahoe at Lampe Park in Gardnerville. Game times are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.