Warriors to face growing pains
By Steve Yingling
Tribune sports editor
Whittell High baseball coach Don Amaral has looked like a genius ever since he took over the program in 2000, turning a struggling team into a perennial state contender. But Amaral may be in for his toughest coaching challenge this spring as eligibility issues and player attrition have impacted the team.
When the Warriors open the season on Friday in Yerington, Amaral’s lineup card will include six players who either haven’t played baseball before or since Little League.
“It could be ugly early, but we’ll be OK by the time league rolls around,” Amaral said. “Step one is to get all of our outfielders catching the ball.”
Even though seven of Amaral’s 16 players are new to baseball, he’ll have three of the Northern 2A League’s top players in catcher Brian Peat, shortstop/pitcher Jeff Young and pitcher/outfielder Ryan Gosh. Young and Gosh, however, won’t be available until later in the season because of academic shortcomings.
“We got a lot of learning to do but once we get on the field, and once everybody starts playing, we’re gonna be fine,” Peat said.
Snow has consistently fallen since practice opened, limiting Whittell to one practice on the field.
“That’s Nevada weather. It snows during baseball season,” Peat said. “It’s tough to get a lot of stuff done, learning about the positions and where the cutoffs are.”
Cody Harrington, a spot starter and reliever last year, has decided to play golf this spring and without Young and Gosh, Whittell could take a hit on the mound until league play begins.
Sophomore Carter Amaral, the coach’s son, will serve as the team’s ace until more help arrives.
“I’ve been coached by (former major leaguer) Mike Hartley and he’s helped me out a lot as have some of our other coaches,” Carter said. “I feel like I’ve improved a lot and I should be ready to pitch.”
The holes in the starting rotation will mean that newcomers Chris Craig, Christian Hernandez and Rio DeLucia will get unforeseen opportunities on the bump.
“You get past Carter and a lot of these guys haven’t played and never made an all-star team, but on the positive side I’ve scheduled a lot of games and we have until April 1 before we go to Battle Mountain (for our first league contest),” Amaral said.
But Amaral does have the league’s best player from 2005 to develop and stabilize the inexperienced pitching staff. Peat caught one of the state’s most talented staffs and threw out 70 percent of the baserunners who tried to steal on him last year.
And he was even better at the plate, hitting a robust .724 in league play and .545 overall.
“This team is really built around Brian,” Amaral said. “He’s the best catcher in the state at any level.”
Amaral said Peat is close to committing to a NCAA Division II school and will concentrate on catching this season, even though he was the Warriors’ third starter behind seniors Chris Shapiro and Marcus Mellberg as the Warriors captured the 2005 regional championship. But Peat developed a sore arm during club ball last summer and will be used exclusively behind the plate.
“I’m focusing on catching for college, that’s what I want to be,” Peat said. “Pitching was really a secondary thing.”
Other players to watch are Joseph Hsiao, Will Jaffe and R.J. Gardner.
Despite the Warriors’ inexperience, Amaral doesn’t see an end to the school’s string of six consecutive regional tournament appearances.
“I’m sticking my neck out and saying we’re gonna make zone because I have a group of athletes we’re teaching baseball to,” Amaral said.
Peat foresees even more possibilities for the Warriors.
“We’re definitely younger and not as experienced, but by the end of season we’ll be just as good as last year,” he predicted.
Date Opponent Time
March 10-11 Yerington tour. TBA
March 14 TRUCKEE 3:30 p.m.
March 18 Dayton (DH) 11 a.m.
March 21 Virginia City 3:30 p.m.
March 25 Tonopah (DH) Noon
March 28 At Coleville 3:30 p.m.
March 29 SMITH VALLEY 3:30 p.m.
April 1 At Battle Mtn. (DH) Noon
April 3 At Truckee 3:30 p.m.
April 4 NORTH TAHOE 3:30 p.m.
April 6 COLEVILLE 3:30 p.m.
April 8 ROP (DH) Noon
April 22 SILVER STAGE (DH) NOON
April 25 At North Tahoe 3:30 p.m.
April 29 HAWTHORNE (DH) NOON
May 2 At Virginia City 3:30 p.m.
May 5 At Lovelock (DH) Noon
May 11-12 Regional playoffs TBA
May 17-19 State tournament TBA
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