By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies have a lot to live up to on the baseball fields this spring.
The school is in the midst of a sports year for the ages, with hugely successful runs for several of the Fortuna teams, and new baseball head coach Andy Olsen and his players are eager to keep that run going.
“We’re trying to be as successful as the other Fortuna sports,” Olsen said. “This year has been one heck of a year.”
The Huskies won North Coast Section crowns in both football and boys soccer, while enjoying an historic and very successful year in boys basketball and remaining among the NCS elite in wrestling.
Now it’s the baseball players’ turn, and many of them will bring that winning mentality, having played on those other successful squads.
“I feel we’re getting there,” said Olsen, whose team is off to a 2-4 start. “And we’re hoping to make some noise in the Big 5.”
The Huskies have 10 seniors on their roster of 20, but a lot of them don’t have a lot of baseball experience.
There is, however, a core group that Olsen and the new coaching staff will look to, including the talented Sheaden Kadle, who also played a leading role on the football team.
“He’s had three starts, and he’s thrown well in all three,” Olsen said of the senior, who will pitch and play third base.
Kadle is one of three seniors who will see plenty of time on the mound, along with Gabe Sandberg and Dylan McNeil.
Sandberg has been impressive in the early season, both on the mound and at the plate, and will play multiple positions this spring, while McNeil offers a lefty option on the mound and will be the team’s leadoff hitter.
“He draws walks, and he does what we want out of a leadoff guy,” Olsen said.
Sophomore Wyatt Wilson will also see plenty of time on the mound.
“He throws fairly hard for a younger kid,” Olsen said.
Another talented athlete, junior Daeden Taylor will also pitch and is expected to be strong defensively in the outfield, along with senior Caleb Crawley, who is one of the team’s more versatile players.
“They’re two very good outfielders,” the head coach said.
Another senior expected to play a big role this spring is Cory Johnson, who doesn’t have a lot of experience but brings a big bat to the lineup and is adapting quickly.
The versatile Garrett Aust, meanwhile, also can play a lot of different positions, including catcher, second base and the outfield, and has had an immediate impact at the plate this season.
Two other seniors, Joey Pontes and Jason Besanceney, join the team this year and give Olsen added options with their athletic ability.
“They’re getting there,” he said.
Junior Dylan Cervantes will also see time on the mound and has been an early force at the plate, with a pair of doubles in just three at-bats.
“He’s got some power and he’s providing some offense for us,” Olsen said.
The head coach is also expecting big things form a talented sophomore class.
In addition to Wilson and Branson Gans, who will also pitch, three other sophomores — Regan Nyberg, Ethan Ward and Riley Harris — look ready to play their part.
“The sophomore class is pretty strong,” Olsen said. “And all of them will contribute this year.”