By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Dayton reloading on the diamond after good run last year

For the second consecutive season, the Pirates are looking north to Tualatin. The consensus around Dayton is that Horizon Christian is once again the team to beat.

The Hawks finished the 2012 season 24-2 and was 3A’s No.1-ranked team. Dayton coach Roger Lorenzen said this season should be no different.

“I think Horizon Christian is the best in the league again,” Lorenzen said. “And the rest of us are going to battle for those other two spots. Last year we snuck up on some people, but this year we won’t have that because the other teams will be ready for that.”

The other consensus around the Dayton program is this season’s team is a young one.

The responsibility to lead the Pirates rests on the shoulders of one of Dayton’s two seniors on the roster — Forrest Garcia.

The lack of veteran leadership is not a concern for the program as the Pirates began practicing about a week ago.

The notion is the roster and leadership ability should grow within the coming days, Lorenzen said. Basketball season recently ended and most of Dayton’s upper-class leaders were in Coos Bay competing for a state championship.

Now that the basketball playoffs are over, Lorenzen said he hopes to see more of his older leaders start to trickle into practice — or maybe not.

“We currently have two seniors in practice,” Lorenzen said. “We could have four more, but they just finished with basketball aren’t sure at this moment if they will play for sure or not. We’ll just have to see.”

Where Dayton looks its strongest, with only a week to judge, is its pitching staff, led by Garcia.

Lorenzen said he expects pitching to be strong again. He credits last season’s staff for being strong and one of the biggest reasons the Pirates went 10-2 in the West Valley League, but there’s one concern.

After Garcia at No.1, the pitching rotation is in flux.

“We have to find a No. 2 guy behind Forrest,” Lorenzen said. “Harley Bowlin had that role last year, and I don’t think that’s going to be a problem since we just started, but we have to get on that.”

The Pirates pitching staff ranked third in the league last season in runs allowed. With so many new faces with the program, and the uncertainty of seniors returning, Dayton pitching has the potential to surrender more runs this season.

Moving to the other side of the ball, Lorenzen’s approach on offense is simple: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Dayton was a small-ball team in 2012. Lorenzen said sticking with small-ball will help the freshmen that will be forced into starting roles because they are used to it from little league. The Pirates finished third in the West Valley League in runs scored, and Lorenzen said he hopes the combination of small-ball, pitching, and defense are enough to overtake Horizon Christian.

Dayton made it to the state playoffs last season but lost 7-3 in the first to Glide. Since 2006, the Pirates have made it to the state quarterfinal round once. They lost 4-3 to Vale in 2011.

Dayton begins the season with a seven-game home stand at 4:30 p.m. Friday vs. Scio.


Willamina keeps building

The Bulldogs had a slight setback on the diamond last season. Willamina finished fourth in the West Valley League with a record of 9-10 — two wins less than the 2011 season.

Despite missing the final playoff spot last year, the Bulldogs possessed the second-best offense in the league averaging six runs a game. The Bulldogs reached the state playoffs in 2011, but lost 12-1 to Pleasant Hill.

It wasn’t that long ago when the Bulldogs were on top.

Willamina went 22-6 in 2009 and reached the 3A state championship game. The Bulldogs beat Westside Christian 14-9 in an 11 inning game. Willamina begins its season at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Regis.


Amity looks to start fresh with new coach

Last season was a forgettable one for the Warriors. They finished fifth in the West Valley League with a record of 4-14.

Amity looks to forget about last season with the entrance of a new head coach. Corey Baughman takes over for John Stearns.

Amity has six wins combined in the previous two seasons. In the last seven years, the Warriors best season came in 2006, when Amity finished with 13 wins. The Warriors have not made it to the state playoffs since then.

Amity starts its season at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Yamhill-Carlton.

Sheridan looks to rebound from 0-16

It’s been a long time since the Spartans last won a baseball game.

Sheridan went 0-16 in 2012, and it struggled badly to score runs. It scored the least amount of runs in the West Valley League, while giving up the most runs.

The Spartans have not put a winning season together since 2006. They begin the 2013 season at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Harrisburg. Sheridan plays its next three games at home.


Y-C looks to get over the hump

The Tigers finished 10-10 last year and reached the play-in round.

Yamhill-Carlton lost the play-in 1-0 vs. Madras. The Tigers will be in a rebuilding mode after they lost half of their roster, including All-Cowapa League pitcher Jake McGraw. The Tigers have five seniors returning.

Yamhill-Carlton begins its season at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday vs. Amity.

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