South Tahoe baseball seeks third straight playoff berth in 2016 with mix of experience, youth | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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South Tahoe baseball seeks third straight playoff berth in 2016 with mix of experience, youth

Anthony Gentile | agentile@tahoedailytribune.com
South Tahoe senior Paul Hoefer is one of the Vikings’ three captains this season. As a junior, Hoefer hit .409 with 27 RBIs.
Anthony Gentile / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

2016 Regular Season Schedule

Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament

March 10 at Douglas, 3:30 p.m.

March 11 vs. Spanish Springs (at Wooster), 10 a.m.

March 11 vs. Fallon (at Wooster), 1:30 p.m.

March 12 vs. Spanish Springs (at Carson), 9:30 a.m.

March 12 at Carson, 2 p.m.

Div. I-A Northern League

March 18 at Fallon, 3 p.m.

March 19 at Fallon, 11 a.m. (DH)

March 25 vs. Elko, 3 p.m.

March 26 vs. Elko, 11 a.m. (DH)

April 1 vs. Sparks, 3 p.m.

April 2 vs. Sparks, 11 a.m. (DH)

April 5 at Dayton, 3 p.m.

April 8 at Truckee, 3 p.m.

April 9 at Truckee, 11 a.m. (DH)

April 15 vs. Lowry, 6 p.m.

April 16 vs. Lowry, 11 a.m. (DH)

April 19 at Dayton, 3 p.m.

April 22 vs. Fernley, 3 p.m.

April 23 vs. Fernley, 11 a.m. (DH)

May 3 vs. Dayton (at Aces Ballpark), 4 p.m.

May 6 at Spring Creek, 3 p.m.

May 7 at Spring Creek, 11 a.m. (DH)

Home games in bold, played at Todd Fields Park (STMS)

The South Tahoe baseball team knows where it wants to finish the 2016 season. For a Vikings’ squad that has a mix of experience and youth, coming together as a team and figuring out how to make a third straight playoff appearance is the main objective.

“We’ve been there the past few years and we’d like to continue that,” Vikings’ fifth-year head coach Starbuck Teevan said. “Our ultimate goal is to win the state championship.”

Last season, South Tahoe finished 19-13 and qualified for the Div. I-A Northern Region playoffs for the second straight year after ending a two-decade postseason drought in 2014. The Vikings graduated nine seniors in the offseason, including players that made up half of their offensive production and innings pitched.

“We have some big expectations to live up to — the program has done well during the past two years and we’re really just trying to step it up and beat them,” Vikings senior Josh Sullivan said. “We’ve had a lot of people telling us we aren’t ready for this year. We definitely need to prove everyone wrong, and I think we can do it.”

“We’ve had a lot of people telling us we aren’t ready for this year. We definitely need to prove everyone wrong.”Josh SullivanVikings senior

Sullivan was voted a team captain along with seniors Paul Hoefer and Justin Ruger on the eve of South Tahoe’s season opener at Douglas on Thursday, March 10. That trio is part of a group of 10 seniors with varying degrees of varsity experience on this year’s Vikings team.

“We have lots of seniors, but we lost some big players from last year,” Hoefer said. “Most of the team was here last year, but there are some new players. Getting those new players comfortable with how we do things is important.”

Hoefer (.409, 27 RBIs last year), junior Garret Harley (.408, 21) and senior Will Mori (.400, 35) are the top offensive returners for a South Tahoe club reliant on speed and timely hitting. The Vikings hit four home runs in 32 games last season, and aren’t counting on a sudden power surge at the plate in 2016.

“Bigger teams are going to have a power approach with players that can smack it out of the park,” Hoefer said. “We have to stay focused and put the ball in play — if we can’t score runs, we’re not going to win games.”

South Tahoe doesn’t have a set pitching rotation, and is in the process of narrowing a group of hurlers into a core of five or six reliable starters. Harley went 7-3 with a 5.42 ERA while throwing a team-high 63.1 innings last season, and Teevan mentioned seniors Sullivan, Caleb Russell, Moises Cuevas, junior Evan Brewer and sophomore Chris Pfister as potential options on the mound.

“We’ve had a chance to look at guys and see what they can and can’t do — and we’re still looking at a few more,” Teevan said. “Which pitchers can compete, really throw strikes and work out of jams — early on that’s what we’re looking at.”

Speed is South Tahoe’s biggest strength entering the season, and they plan to use it both on the basepaths and in the field. An experienced infield and rangy outfield make up a Vikings’ defense that expects improvement from previous editions.

“Defensively we’re fast, and if we can catch the ball and limit our errors we’re going to be just fine,” Teevan said. “That is where we’re looking to make the leap this year.”

The Vikings’ 20-man roster is rounded out by freshmen Caleb Carramazza, Christian Jacuk and Wyatt Wiley. That trio adds necessary depth and speed to capitalize on new rules allowing courtesy runners for both the pitcher and catcher.

“If I think they’re capable and can contribute to the varsity team, the experience of a year on the varsity level is big,” Teevan said. “There’s not just one set thing that they do that I like — there’s multiple things they can do to help us.”

The expansion of the regional playoff field to six teams makes a return trip to the postseason attainable for South Tahoe. Two years removed from the first state appearance in program history, the Vikings ultimately want to return to the big stage.

“It’s early in the season, and we’re all still getting used to each other and getting back in the routine,” Hoefer said. “Once people start jelling, we’ll have a good chance at making a run to state.”

South Tahoe opens the season with five games in three days at the Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament, March 10-12. After facing Douglas on Thursday, the Vikings play Spanish Springs (Sparks, Nev.) and league rival Fallon at Wooster High on Friday, March 11, before playing Spanish Springs and Carson (Carson City, Nev.) at Carson High on Saturday, March 12.

“We have a great group and it looks like a good, solid team,” Hoefer said. “It’ll be fun to see where we’re at.”

The Vikings begin Div. I-A Northern League play with a three-game series at defending state, regional and league champion Fallon beginning Friday, March 18. South Tahoe’s first home series comes March 25-26 against Elko — it has home series against Sparks, Lowry, Fernley, and travels to play Dayton, Truckee and Spring Creek.

“The older guys know what’s expected of them, and the key is holding each other accountable and working hard,” Teevan said. “We don’t have as much talent as in years past, so the kids are going to have to work harder.”


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