The prep baseball season is just around the corner and hopes are high in Ontario and Nyssa that victory will be the rule, rather than the exception, in 2019. (The Enterprise/File).
NYSSA – Bulldog baseball coach Travis Sapp said he is excited to get the spring season going, and he will call on a solid group of returning starters to help guide Nyssa.
With their first game next Tuesday, Sapp said the Bulldogs will showcase eight returning varsity players including seniors Cam Elguezabal, Tanner Castro and Xavier Castro and junior Elijah Cleaver.
Elguezabal and Trujillo will play in the outfield while Cleaver and Tanner Castro will be in the infield and Xavier Castro will stand at first base.
Nyssa finished with a 1-13 record in 2018, a mark Sapp said he is eager to improve.
“I’m optimistic. Our guys are willing to do the hard work to get better,” said Sapp.
Sapp said the team to beat in the Eastern Oregon League will be Vale.
“They have a ton of players coming. Their juniors are rock stars. Seniors are good too,” said Sapp.
Sapp said the Bulldogs learned two lessons last season.
“Patience and compassion, for sure,” said Sapp.
Sapp said the priority right now isn’t wins and losses.
“We’re just going to focus on working hard and getting better and not worry so much about results,” said Sapp.
Nyssa will open its baseball season Tuesday, March 12, hosting Payette in Nyssa. The game kicks off at 5 p.m.
In Ontario, coach Greg Simmons will rely on a veteran core of seniors to help the Tigers steer through the spring schedule.
“It is kind of a mix – veteran leadership and sophomores,” said Simmons.
Simmons said the corps of Tiger veterans include seniors Seth Forsyth, Josh Navarrete, Chance Palmer and Colton Seal. Simmons said all four are versatile players.
Palmer, for example, is experienced as both a pitcher and catcher while Seal is no stranger to shortstop or the outfield.
Forsyth could see action in the outfield or on the mound while Navarrete will pitch and play in the outfield and infield, said Simmons.
Simmons, who was a pitching coach for the Tiger baseball program two years ago, said he sees La Grande as the team to beat in the Greater Oregon League.
“And with Baker it doesn’t matter what sport it is, they will always give you a tough run. Mac-Hi is always really scrappy,” said Simmons.
Ontario finished with a 7-5 record in 2018 and lost to Crook County in a state tournament play-in game.
Simmons said he likes the Tiger’s chances this season.
“I feel really confident with the senior leadership. They are already starting to take a lot of initiative. They want this to be a really solid year,” said Simmons.
Simmons said he wants to “build on a lot of things they already have in place.”
“I want them to play with a lot of energy and I think that starts at practice,” said Simmons.
The Tigers open the season Tuesday, March 12, against Nampa High School in Nampa.
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