Optimism is present in every team’s camp this time of year. It’s no different for the Reed baseball team this year.
For some, the hope is forced. And for others, the hope is validated.
Reed baseball coach John Phenix doesn’t think he’s forcing anything when he says this may be the best all-around team that’s been at Reed in nearly 15 years.
“What I’ve seen from our kids, I see better competition, a lot more arms on the mound … I see better overall team speed and definitely better defense,” Phenix said. “From what we lost, to what we’ve gained isn’t comparable.”
The Raiders lost eight seniors from last year’s team that went 16-15-1, 12-10 in DI North play before going 1-2 in the regional tournament, three of which were all leaguers: third baseman Brandon Koszuth (first team), designated hitter/utility player Austin May (first team) and pitcher/outfielder (Louis Henry).
- 2015 record: 16-15-1, 12-10 DI North No. 6
- Playoffs: 5-2 L to McQueen in loser’s bracket quarterfinals
- Key returners: Austin Beard, Lincoln Turner, Matt Denn, John Pinto, Vinnie Fillapone
- Key losses: Alec Leighton, Louis Henry, Brandon Koszuth, Austin May, Dakota Tompkins, Jackson Gilmore
Reed also lost shortstop Alec Leighton (now at Montana State—Billings), but he will “probably” be replaced by junior John Pinto. Phenix said he “hasn’t seen a shortstop like (Pinto) at Reed or a player than can play the middle like him (in a long time).”
A pair of sophomores that Phenix is also high on will join the mix: pitcher/outfielder Tanner Clabaugh and utility player Levi Sanchez.
Clabaugh will help make up a staff that “isn’t going to blow anyone away” but will rely on depth. Austin Beard, Lincoln Turner, Vinnie Fillipone and Matt Denn—Reed’s now-former star quarterback—will also be some of the names taking the bump for the Raiders.
Offensively, the Raiders’ identity is yet to be determined. Phenix said 70-80 percent of the team is capable of stealing bases, which would suggest small ball. A handful of guys are also capable of driving the ball out of the park: Turner, Jake White, Parker Houston and the left-handed Jay Guerrero, who just moved back to Reed from Fernley.
“We got a blessing in Guerrero coming back,” Phenix said. “(He’s) one of the better left-handed hitters I’ve seen since I’ve been back. He’s a good player.”
As for realistic goals for the season, Phenix didn’t give anything concrete.
“Get back to zone (regional tournament) for one and then we’re going to challenge them,” Phenix said. “I really think we are a better then we’ve been since I’ve been back. Everyone has to stay healthy.”
The Raiders will open their season on Thursday at home against McQueen in their first game of the annual Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament. First pitch is at 2 p.m.