baseball

Defensive Cubs ready to challenge for Little 4 and more

By Ray Hamill — Judging by what they’ve shown so far this season, the South Fork Cubs appear to have the pitching and defense to compete for a Little 4 title in 2019.

This year’s team features a combination of athletic talent and baseball experience, having won the North Coast Section Division-VI crown a year ago.

Whether they can challenge St. Bernard’s and Ferndale for the conference championship, however, could very well come down to how effective they can be at the plate.

“We have a strong defense,” head coach Corky Coffelt said. “Like I told the players at the start of the year, this team is built on defense.”

The 7-2 Cubs have given up more than three runs just once in nine games, and allowed just four combined runs in their two losses, both shutouts.

In their past five games, including a matchup against Fortuna and two against St. Bernard’s, the Cubs have given up five runs total.

Senior CJ Van Meter has been leading the way as expected and is one of the top pitchers in a Little 4 loaded with them, but the emergence of junior Kaydon Pogue and senior Cooper Scott has given Coffelt added options on the mound.

Scott pitched a gem against Fortuna on Tuesday, in a game the Cubs lost 1-0 in eight innings.

“Some of my better hitters struggled,” the head coach said of the game. “We’ve been playing really good defense, we’re just struggling at the plate.”

Senior leaders

The Cubs have four seniors on the roster, as well as one junior and a group of 10 freshmen and sophomores.

In addition to Van Meter and Scott, catcher Cody Wyatt continues to play a pivotal role in the team’s championship ambitions, along with first baseman/designated hitter Orin Paula.

Wyatt is a four-year varsity starter behind the plate and has been catching for Van Meter since Little League.

Scott also plays shortstop, while Pogue has also been playing at third base and catcher.

Among the younger faces, the multi-talented sophomore Graham McConnell has been stepping up in the outfield, making a spectacular catch in a doubleheader at home to St. Bernard’s last weekend.

Sean Hassall-Hoss and Ethen Kulchin, two more sophomores, have both also been solid in the outfield, while the team’s lone starting freshman, Tanner Curran, has been a good addition at second base.

Top of the standings

The Cubs got their Little 4 campaign off to a solid start with a recent sweep at Hoopa and a doubleheader split at home to St. Bernard’s last Saturday, and are tied with the Crusaders atop the standings with a record of 3-1.

South Fork travels to Ferndale for a pair of challenging games this weekend, and Coffelt is hoping his players can get some offense going.

“If we get on a roll, we’ll be alright,” the head coach said. “Hopefully we can fix it and get going.”

The Cubs are the fifth highest ranked local team in the state, according to MaxPreps, and No. 50 overall in the NCS, just three spots behind Eureka.

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