South Tahoe baseball pitches toward another season |

South Tahoe baseball pitches toward another season

Chad Sellmer, Tribune staff writer

Jim GrantJunior Peter Maes is one of four returning pitchers for the South Tahoe Vikings

The South Tahoe High School baseball team is hoping to use the strength of experience to turn around its fortunes and produce a winning season this spring, a tall task in a very tough Northern Nevada 4A League.

Last year’s STHS baseball team finished with a 6-17 overall record and 3-15 in league play.

Doug Russell, a math teacher and fifth-year head coach, said the team needs to learn to focus its strength.

“For us to be successful our strength needs to be focused on good pitching and defense,” Russell said. “That will keep us in all the ballgames, as long as we execute and not give away runs.”

Russell expects to carry 16-17 players on this year’s team, mostly juniors. Six starters return from last year’s team, including four starting pitchers.

“We don’t have any seniors in the program right now so we are young, which is not a bad thing,” he said.

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The team has three returning starters who were recognized for all-league honors as sophomores: Peter Maes (second-team pitcher); Marcus McKinnon (second-team outfielder) and A.J. Russo (honorable mention catcher).

“We’ve got a core group of juniors beginning to understand what it takes to be successful at the 4A level,” Russell said. “A lot of them played on varsity last year, and while we took our lumps, we never got down on ourselves and we used it as a learning process. We learned the value of pitching inside.

“This group of guys in the summer won quite a few one-run, low-scoring games. We don’t have to play gorilla ball to be successful. That is the mindset that will lead us in the direction we want to go.”

The 4A Sierra Division includes some top teams in the region, including defending state champ Wooster, as well as regional runner-up Reno, traditional powerhouse Carson and annual playoff contender Douglas.

“There are teams we have to beat that we don’t have a history of beating,” Russell said. “We are looking to earn respect in this league and that means we’re going to have to beat (these teams) and that’s not easy. We would like to end the season with a winning record, but to accomplish that we’re going to have to play some very solid baseball.”

STHS junior Russo, who pitches and catches, expects the team to improve based on the experience many players gained from last year.

“I think we should be better, but the competition should be better also,” Russo said.

Junior Kevin Woodman, who plays pitcher, catcher and infield, said the team has set a couple of informal goals for this year.

“Being scrappy and having more fun are important,” Woodman said.

The team’s first scrimmage is a tripleheader at Carson this Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m.

2003 Schedule:

3/6 at Carson Tourn. 11 a.m.

3/7 at Carson Tourn. 1 p.m.

3/8 at Carson Tourn. 9 a.m.

3/13 at Reno High 3:30 p.m.

3/15 Reno 10 a.m.

3/18 at Dayton 3 p.m.

3/20 at Carson 3:30 p.m.

3/22 Carson 10 a.m.

3/25 Truckee 3:30 p.m.

3/27 North Valleys 3:30 p.m.

3/29 at North Valleys 10 a.m.

4/1 at Truckee 3:30 p.m.

4/3 North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.

4/5 at Manogue 10 a.m.

4/8 Dayton 3:30 p.m.

4/10 Wooster 3:30 p.m.

4/12 at Wooster 1 p.m.

4/15 at Spanish Springs 3:30 p.m.

4/17 at Hug 3:30 p.m.

4/19 Hug 10 a.m.

5/1 Douglas 3:30 p.m.

5/3 at Douglas 1 p.m.

5/7 Regionals TBA

5/14 State TBA