Tillson at home steering Viking baseball ship | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tillson at home steering Viking baseball ship

Jeremy Evans

Matt Tillson knows it snows in Tahoe. And he knows most years the area’s baseball fields are covered with the white stuff until May. He knows the Vikings practice indoors early in the season.

And you know what? He doesn’t care.

“There has always been the excuses of the weather and the past history,” said Tillson, the Vikings’ first-year coach. “I will never use the weather as an excuse. The kids aren’t going to hear me use it. That is something we have no control over. We can’t change it, so get over it. Who cares if you have to take gym hops? There’s no reason why we can’t have a successful team.”

The 31-year-old Tillson, a former player at South Tahoe, has more than six years coaching experience as both an assistant and head coach with the varsity and junior varsity programs. In fact, ever since Tillson graduated from high school he’s kept his eye on the program, quietly dreaming that one day he’d run the show.

“I’ve actually wanted this job since I was 19,” Tillson said. “I’ve always felt there has been a lot of talent around here, but for whatever reason it wasn’t channeled the right way. It’s a great situation.”

Tillson’s optimism has already spread to his players.

“He’s great. His attitude, as far as having to play indoors, is awesome,” said senior center fielder Kyle Jones, who was an all-league pick last season. “It’s going to be fun, better than the last couple years. We got a shot to be good. We got some real strong returners and the younger guys are decent, too.”

Jones leads a team that will be relying on its senior leadership. First baseman Nick Heng, third baseman/pitcher Curtis Maxwell, second baseman Randy Henson and pitchers Jacob Hash, Daniel Tinlin and Spencer Dean make up the nucleus of the team.

“He (Tillson) knows what he’s talking about,” Tinlin said. “He has a different attitude. I’m excited. I think we have a chance to do good, better than the last couple years for sure.”

The Vikings, who haven’t qualified for the postseason in more than a decade, will see today if all this optimism will translate into success. South Tahoe plays North Tahoe at 11 a.m. and Lassen at 1 p.m. on the opening day of the Carson Tournament at Ron McNutt Field in Carson City.

Tillson is also eager to see how three promising sophomores start the season. Infielder/pitcher Chris Diana, shortstop Steve Yarrow, and outfielder/pitcher Ian Rice have all shown signs of potential in the preseason. Junior catcher Buck Pershing also figures to play a prominent role in the team’s success.

South Tahoe doesn’t have to wait long before learning how it stands in the difficult Sierra Division, which has produced two of the past three state champions. The Vikings have a three-game series with defending state champion Reno next week, followed by another series against division favorite Wooster the following week. And with Douglas, Carson and North Valleys also coming back with talent, South Tahoe again should face a tough task in securing one of the four Northern 4A playoff spots.

“The playoffs are always the main goal,” Heng said. “We got a shot this year. It’s completely different from last year. Basically, we just want to show people what Tahoe baseball is all about. Nobody expects anything from us, but I think we’ll surprise some people this weekend.”

South Tahoe Baseball Schedule

Date Opponent Time

Today Carson Tournament TBA

Friday Carson Tournament TBA

Saturday Carson Tournament TBA

March 14 Carson Tournament TBA

March 17 RENO 3:30 p.m.

March 19 Reno (2) 10 a.m.

March 22 NORTH TAHOE 3:30 p.m.

March 24 Wooster 3:30 p.m.

March 26 WOOSTER (2) 10 a.m.

April 5 Dayton 3:30 p.m.

April 7 DOUGLAS 3:30 p.m.

April 9 Douglas 1 p.m.

April 12 North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.

April 14 Carson 3:30 p.m.

April 16 CARSON (2) 10 a.m.

April 19 DAYTON 3:30 p.m.

April 21 NORTH VALLEYS 3:30 p.m.

April 23 North Valleys 10 a.m.

April 26 Truckee 3:30 p.m.

April 28 Hug 3:30 p.m.

April 29 WHITTELL 3:30 p.m.

April 30 HUG (2) 10 a.m.

May 3 SPARKS 3:30 p.m.

Note: Home games in ALL CAPS.

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