By Ray Hamill — The Humboldt Eagles 17Us are making strides as they get set for what will be a busy few weeks.
The Eagles, who are off to a 2-1-1 start, will host Colusa in a doubleheader at Bomber Field on Sunday, and two weeks into the summer season new head coach Kennan Snipes is already seeing a lot of improvement from a young roster.
“They’re starting to understand some things,” he said. “Starting to get smarter.”
The Eagles’ pitching has looked good through the early going, and the team defense has been mostly solid.
The problems, however, have been at the plate, although the head coach believes his young lineup is starting to understand the mental aspects of the game better.
After striking out 18 times in their second game, the Eagles’ bats have been more aggressive and smarter at the plate in recent games, including in a 5-4 win over the Northern Humboldt Steelheads on Tuesday.
The young players also impressed in a recent 3-2 loss in a scrimmage against the experienced and loaded Eagles 19Us.
In addition to players from Eureka, this year’s team also features five Fortuna players, including some who have played a pivotal role so far.
Fortuna’s Cody Collins, Rogan Gans and Drew Franklin have all impressed on the mound and make up a solid four-man rotation along with Eureka’s Cooper Ohlsen.
Ohlsen had a very good outing against the 19Us, pithing four strong innings against the county all-star lineup.
Collins, who is coming off a big spring with the Huskies, has been a consistent presence both pitching and at shortstop and is expected to get the start on the mound for one of Sunday’s games.
Other players who have impressed early include Eureka’s Mateo Guitierrez and Fortuna’s Tyler Schlesiger, both of whom have displayed some power at the plate.
Guitierrez hit a home run in Tuesdays’ win, while Schlesiger hit a solo blast against the Northern Humboldt Giants last week.
“When he gets a hold of the ball, he does some damage,” Snipes said of Schlesiger. “He’s mentally improving.”
Sunday’s doubleheader will kick-start a busy few weeks, including midweek games against both the Giants and Southern Humboldt 76ers in each of the next two weeks, as well as upcoming weekend tournaments at Arcata and Reno.
And more importantly, the players are having fun while improving their game.
“We’ve got tons of talent. It’s definitely a talented group,” Snipes said. “And they’re all doing fantastic and getting smarter and having fun, and that’s our main focus.”