baseball

Young Warriors glad to be back playing baseball as they build for the future

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Del Norte’s Daylen O’Reilley in action at McKinleyville on Wednesday.

By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors have a lot of young talent on their baseball roster this spring, but they’re going to have to take their lumps as they adjust to the varsity level.

A walk-off win in their season opener against Fortuna last week showed what this team is capable of, but a roster of 15 that features 10 underclassmen will have its hands full going up against some of the more experienced Big 5 opponents.

“We are a young team comprised mostly of sophomores who are experiencing their first year of high school baseball and being thrown to the wolves at the varsity level,” head coach Roger Schultz said. “I definitely have some very talented and hard-working sophomores who are the core of our team and will only get better with more time and experience.”

Two upperclassmen are expected to lead the way, including the lone returning senior — the versatile Daylen O’Reilley — who plays catcher and pitches, among other things.

“He will give you 100 percent every game and play any position I ask him to play,” Schultz said.

Junior shortstop Jared Dixon could be the team’s most talented player and is someone who continues to develop.

“Jared Dixon is constantly making both the difficult plays and routine plays look smooth and effortless,” said Schultz, who added that Dixon has responded well to being challenged. “Jared is a workhorse, a grinder who is constantly pushing himself. He has no limits.”

The talented sophomore class includes a number of players who have been starring at the American Legion level in recent summers and will bring that experience to the Warriors program, including William Bommelyn, Raymond Rusgrove and Brody Mattz, as well as Gavin Skerik, Ethan Thomas, Jacob Dane, Sylas Sampels, Cooper Maxwell and Cole Blackburn.

Del Norte’s Sylas Sampels delivers a pitch against McKinleyville on Wednesday.

“We are trying to keep it fun, but I want them to take the field and compete to the best of their ability each and every game,” the head coach said. “These kids need to grow as young adults and learn how to become the best person they can be, not just the best ball player.”

The roster also includes two seniors who are returning to baseball for the first time in several years — Peyton Swan and Jose Regalado — the latter of whom is coming off an outstanding season for the Warriors on the soccer field.

Junior Isaac Arriola and freshman Collin Tromble round out a roster that is grateful to be back playing the game for essentially the first time in two years.

Del Norte first baseman Raymond Rusgrove in action on Wednesday.

“As a program we are dealing with the same adversities as every other team,” Schultz said. “COVID is no one’s friend, but we are grateful we are getting to suit up and take the field as a varsity club for the first time in what feels like forever.”

The 1-3 Warriors will host McKinleyville in a doubleheader on Saturday.

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