As the Vale baseball team takes to the field for its first week or practice, many of the faces are new to the coaching staff.
Last spring’s graduation saw many familiar faces walk down the aisle, so fans will see some new players on this year’s team.
The Vikings finished last season at second place in the 3A-5 Eastern Oregon League. Facing a tough preseason schedule, the Viks ended the year with a 15-14 overall record and 6-4 in league. On the road for the first round of the state playoffs, the Vikings ended their season with a 14-3 loss to Glide.
The league has added one team, the combined Joseph/Enterprise/Wallowa squad, making this season a seven-team race.
The turnout is strong in Vale.
“We have about 25 kids out this year for the team,” said Vale head coach Rick Yraguen. “Seven of those are varsity returnees from last year.”
With the new pitching rules recommended this year, Yraguen realizes a full pitching contingent will be necessary come league time. The rules, setting pitch count limits, will be required next year.
“We have Dawson Eddy, Gage Fortin and Josh Buchholz, but we are looking at some of the younger players also,” Yraguen said.
With young talent on the field, Yraguen said fans can expect to see the outfield manned by players new to the varsity roster.
“Our infield will have experience, but the outfield will most likely be new faces,” he said.
Vale will open their season on March 15 with a trip to Homedale to meet the Idaho 3A Trojans. The Vikings will take their home field for the first time on March 17, hosting the Idaho 3A Parma Panthers.