WHS baseball plans on defending its state title
Special to the Tribune
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The goals for the Whittell baseball team are the same as last year: Win league. Win zone. Win state. But with several key players returning from last year’s Nevada 2A state championship squad, the Warriors know there is a target on their backs.
“We know we’re not chasing anymore; we’re being chased,” said WHS coach Starbuck Teevan, a third-year coach who led the team to a school-record 33 wins last season. “I think we’ve pretty much embraced the expectations. The kids’ attitudes have picked as far as wanting to win again.”
The Warriors (4-0), who handled all four of their opponents in the Yerington preseason tournament last week, will rely again on big bats and clutch pitching in their quest to defend their state title. Fortunately they have three seniors that provide those attributes.
A year ago, senior Alex Potnick was a first-team all state selection and the Northern 3A’s most valuable player. He’s looking to improve on his stellar junior year where he batted .622 with 11 home runs and 64 RBI.
“Obviously there are some things we need to work on, because it’s still early, but I think we’re going to compete just fine in the new league, if not very well in the new league,” Potnick said. “There are high expectations because we won state. But we still have to come out and do the basic things and that will take us to state again.”
Senior pitcher Alex Vogt was another first-team all state selection that logged key innings during the team’s state title run a year ago. Vogt posted a 10-1 record and recorded a 1.69 ERA, and was instrumental in securing the program’s first regional title in five seasons during the zone tournament.
“I want to go out with a bang as a senior,” said Vogt, who batted .429 and had three homers as a junior. “It’s kind of different, I guess, because there is more pressure on us (being state champs), but playing better competition will only make us better.”
While Vogt produced memorable outings on the mound last season, it was the pitching of Jordan Morgan that propelled the team to its state title. Teevan, though, thinks he has a worthy replacement for Morgan in senior hurler Julian Washalefsky.
Washalefsky was an honorable mention all-state pick after posting a 2-0 record on the mound with a 3.00 ERA. This season, he’s expected to be the team’s ace.
“I got some big shoes to fill and I plan on working really hard and doing the best I can,” Washalefsky said. “I think everyone is targeting us now because we won state last year, but I think as a team we’re using that to drive us and keep us going.”
The team’s other notable returners are junior Eric Ward, who was second on the team last year with a .476 average, and Matt Schorr, who hit .414 with five doubles and 17 RBI. Freshman Matt Elliott moved to the area from Southern California and will be the team’s catcher.
Even with several league games against 3A competition such as Truckee and South Tahoe, Teevan said he expects another run at state this spring.
“Our three goals are still the same: Win league. Win zone. Win state,” Teevan said.
“Last year was kind of that magical year for us where everything fell into place because we didn’t have a lot of adversity. But we lost six seniors this year and we only have 14 guys, so our numbers are down a bit. We have a real good core group of guys … I think the only thing that could derail is if we can’t stay healthy.”
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