Sierra Lutheran has high hopes for 2018 after notching a 10-2 league record last year en route to a playoff appearance.
The team opened play in the Yerington Tournament this past Friday without the benefit of getting any practice time outside because of the recent snowfall.
“We’ve been limited in what we’ve been able to do,” said assistant coach Brandon Neal. “Our pitchers will be on pitch counts for a while; probably between 30 and 45 pitches.”
Sierra Lutheran can afford to go slow, because league play doesn’t start until April, giving the Falcons time to grow as a team.
The Falcons have some returning firepower. First baseman Rocky DeMartino hit .367 with 28 RBI, infielder Zane Warkentin batted .480 with 13 RBI and there’s catcher-pitcher Seth Houghton (.281, 11 RBI).
Neal is also excited about transfer Wyatt Simpson, who’s expected to hit in the middle of the order and probably play third base.
Michael Davis, who hit .214 last season, starts at second. He stole 13 bases in 13 attempts last season.
Nathan Kechely (.179, RBI), Alex Bernhard (.042, RBI) and Marty West (.030) man the outfield spots along with Aaron Adams. Also returning is Zak Houghton, who hit .171 with six RBI last season.
Expect to see DeMartino, Simpson and Warkentin at the top of the order. Neal said Bernhard has improved at the plate since last season.
Seth Houghton, Zak Houghton, Davis and Simpson have emerged as the top pitchers through the indoor throwing sessions. Warkentin and DeMartini also threw last season.
“We have a lot of arms,” Neal said. “We’re working on control (and location). We can score a lot of runs, but if we’re giving up a lot of runs it’s going to be hard to win.
“I’m excited to see Wyatt throw. He gives you a different arm angle. He is more of a sidearmer. Most pitchers come over the top.”