By Ray Hamill — It’s safe to say no local baseball team will have more pitching than the Eureka Loggers this spring.
They almost have an entire roster of them.
At an early season meeting with his players, new head coach Jackie Christensen asked the group which of them were pitchers.
“Every single person that day raised their hand,” Christensen said.
It presents an interesting dilemma for the coaching staff.
“Its a really good problem to have, but it makes it tough to keep guys happy, and get them the reps they need,” Christensen added.
It also makes it difficult to evaluate all the arms, but it does give the coaching staff a lot of options and the luxury of being able to switch things up as much as they like, which will keep the players on their toes.
Four of them in particular will be expected to lead the way.
None more so than David Vagle, the returning Big 5 MVP and arguably the best high school baseball player in the area.
Vagle got the season off to an impressive start at Ukiah two weeks ago, setting the tone for his senior campaign.
“He’s our go-to guy right now,” Christensen said. “He’s our senior leader and he showed it in our first outing. He made his presence felt.”
Both on the mound and at the plate.
Likewise with senior Kalebh Hill, who will also see plenty of time on the mound, as well as starting behind the plate.
“He’s an interesting case,” Christensen said of Hill. “I don’t know a lot of guys who are starting catcher and starting pitcher.”
Hill is also expected to provide some power in the lineup.
Two other seniors, Brady Munson and Drew Nylander round out the team’s top four starters.
And both are already contributing in other areas too.
Munson, according to his coach, provides versatility and can play anywhere in the infield, while Nylander is “probably our hardest worker.”
“He loves to show up and compete every day,” Christensen said of Nylander, who will play a pivotal role as the team’s only lefty on the mound.
Three key members of the school’s historic football team will also play a major role on the baseball field this spring.
Isaac Gutierrez will play first base and see some time pitching, while Tyce Mullins and Isley Tulmau will pitch, with the latter also seeing time in center field.
“The football guys are a tremendous asset,” the head coach said. “They bring a lot of energy to practice.”
Joshua Duncan and Jesse Anderson round out a talented nine-player senior class.
Duncan will provide depth at catcher and in the outfield, while Anderson is expected to play first base when he returns from a knee injury, but has been on hand at just about every practice despite being unable to play yet.
A class of three juniors will also provide some key depth to this year’s team.
Joshua Colbert will play third base and outfield and has shown “a lot of potential,” according to his coach, while Curtis Edge and Nate Fowler have each been catching the coaches’ eyes on the mound and will see a lot of time in middle relief.
“Pitching coach Ben Larson has been very impressed with both these guys,” Christensen said. “They’ve both showed tremendous improvement.”
The Loggers also feature four sophomores this season, all of whom saw substantial playing time a year ago in helping the team to a second straight Big 5 crown.
Keenan Morris, a dangerous lead-off hitter a year ago, will play middle infield and can switch hit, while Zac Anderson is an “outstanding” outfielder and has taken over as the team’s starting centerfielder.
Hayden Bode and Parker Rodgers, meanwhile, are “exceptional athletes,” according to the coach and can play multiple positions.
Rodgers is “well ahead of his years in terms of talent,” the coach said, while Bode is “a tremendous all-around athlete.”
One freshman rounds out the roster of 17, and he’s been making an immediate impact.
Jackson Giacone started on the mound in the season opener against Santa Rosa, and can expect to see plenty of time there this season.
“He throws hard, he’s got great movement, great location,” the head coach said of the freshman, who has also impressed with his hitting potential.
“As a team, I really like the mixture we have,” added Christensen, who takes over this year from Jeff Giacomini.
“We’ve got a lot of athleticism. A lot of guys who can play different positions, and a lot of speed. It’s just a matter of if we can put it all together. But I really like where we’re at overall.”
The Loggers had a Saturday game against Shasta rained out and will play next at the Shasta tournament next week.