Summer of glove
As a child growing up in Bend, Jo Carroll idolized Bend Elks baseball players.
Carroll, an outfielder on the Linfield College baseball team, and his brother, John – who will play football and baseball at Linfield this upcoming academic year – would watch West Coast League baseball games at Vince Genna Stadium in Bend, which has a view of the Cascade Mountains out past left field. At the end of games, Jo would seek out autographs from the Elks, college baseball players refining their games in the wood-bat summer league.
“The tables kind of turned,” Carroll said. “Now you see kids coming up to you for autographs. It’s pretty awesome.”
Carroll is one of four Linfield College players participating in summer ball with WCL teams, which are scattered across Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Canada. (Two others joined teams on a tryout basis earlier this summer.)
Forrest Garcia, the Dayton High School standout who now plays baseball at Lane Community College, is spending his summer with the WCL’s Medford Rogues. McMinnville native Zev Egli, who pitches for Western Oregon University, is playing for the Kitsap BlueJackets of Bremerton, Washington.
Two of the Linfield players were selected to the WCL All-Star Game, scheduled for July 21 in Medford but canceled due to inclement weather.
Shortstop Corey VanDomelen, a rising senior, is hitting .314 with 27 total hits and 11 runs batted in for the Cowlitz (Washington) Black Bears. Pitcher Chris Haddeland, also a rising senior, has posted a 4-3 record with a 2.98 earned-run average for the Corvallis Knights.
Playing with VanDomelen on the Black Bears is Ryan Newman, a rising sophomore pitcher from Salem. Newman has appeared three times for Cowlitz, allowing one earned run and five hits in 5.1 innings pitched for a 1.68 ERA.
For Carroll, the summer has meant sleeping in his own bed at his parents’ home north of Bend swinging his bat as freely as possible. Carroll is batting .214 in a utility role for the Elks, with three home runs and 13 RBI.
“I haven’t been focusing too much on the little things,” Carroll said. “I’ve just been trying to enjoy my last summer playing baseball. I’m really enjoying my time with the team and just focusing on seeing the ball, hitting the ball and not making it harder than it has to be.”
Haddeland’s summer project with the Knights, who play their games at Oregon State University’s Goss Stadium, has been the development of his changeup, the fourth pitch in his arsenal (fastball, curveball, slider). Haddeland has used the changeup on as many as one-third of the pitches he throws in an outing to achieve command.
“That’s come along pretty well so far,” he said. “That’ll be a nice weapon to have when I go back to Linfield.”
Haddeland, a McMinnville High School graduate, spend last summer with the Swift Current (Saskatchewan) Indians of the Western Major Baseball League. Corvallis had contacted him about pitching the previous summer, and this year he jumped at the chance.
“It’s a good league. It’s a good place to play,” Haddeland said. “It’s a win-win situation to come out here.”