‘Stacked’ Whittell nine has one goal in mind: state title | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Stacked’ Whittell nine has one goal in mind: state title

Matt O'Neill

The Whittell High baseball team is on a mission – to win a state title.

Loaded with eight seniors, strong pitching and strong hitting, the Warriors have all the tools to improve on a fourth-place finish at state a year ago.

“We may not have the best record heading into league play, but that doesn’t matter to me,” Warrior manager Don Amaral said. “We’re going to win state this year.”

Whittell boasts a senior-laden pitching staff this season with three starters who have the promise to be among the best in the state. Brandon Lee and Thomas Hunter, all-leaguers from a year ago, Chris Hannum, a transfer from South Tahoe, anchor a staff that could have as many as six pitchers when state arrives.

“By the time state rolls around they’re going to be untouchable,” Amaral said. “Brandon, Chris and Tommy are going to be nails.

“Last season, we were a bunch of guys and Brandon; this year we’re a bunch of guys with Brandon.”

Potentially joining the staff by the end of the season are Travis Purdy, Brett Schussel, Tyson Fredericks and Joe Piccola.

Schussel, the starting catcher, will be one of the key hitters in a potent lineup.

The junior will bat anywhere from the third-to-the-sixth spot, joining senior Matt Olsen in the power slots.

“Brett has strong defense and hit just under .400 last season,” Amaral said.

Olsen, the team’s center fielder, is definitely one of the team leaders and sees this year as the focal point of his tenure at the high school.

“We’re going to be awesome this year,” Olsen said. “We have everything to make us a very solid team.”

Lee agrees with his fellow captain.

“We are psyched for this season,” said the left hander, who set a school record with 11 wins last season. “The seniors have been waiting for years to be the deciding factor and now our chance is finally here.”

Hannum is one of the biggest pickups for the Warriors. As a three-year starter for the Vikings, Hannum was one of the team leaders and brings those skills to the Warriors.

“Everything off his bat is a line drive,” Amaral said. “He is a tremendous hitter.”

Two of the keys to the Warrior infield are Piccola and Tyson Fredericks. Piccola has great pop in his bat and Fredericks is the anchor to a very solid infield at third base.

“Last year, Joe hit a ball 380 feet and when he came around third and slapped my hand, he did it so hard I thought he broke it,” Amaral said.

According to the second-year coach, the strength of his squad is hitting, pitching, hitting and hitting, in that order.

Hunter points to the new pitching machine for the improved hitting.

“It throws a knuckleball and a curve,” the senior said. “It’s going to help us a lot when we face live pitching.”

The Warriors get started on their quest today when they open the preseason with a game against the South Tahoe Vikings in the Carson Preseason Invitational tournament at Carson High at 1 p.m.

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