DAYTON — Ryan Ransdell made a name for himself as a player at Dayton High School, making all-state his senior year.
Now, the 2008 Dayton High grad has been tasked with coaching the Dayton High varsity this season in place of Jay Merrell, who stepped down to concentrate on his studies. Ransdell was an assistant coach a year ago on the team that went 8-15 overall and 5-11 in league.
“Jay is back in school, and he couldn’t do that and this (coaching),” Ransdell said. “It was left to Mike (Burrows) and I, and it kind of fell to me (the head job).”
Ransdell admits to being both nervous and excited heading into Friday’s opening games at the Yerington Tournament. Dayton plays Yerington at 1:15 on Friday and then comes back to play Bishop at 4:45. On Saturday, Dayton will play Battle Mountain at 9:45 a.m. and then play Yerington again at 3 p.m.
Dayton returns eight players — pitcher-outfielder Peter Scott (.370, 20 RBI; 0-3, 8.25 ERA), shortstop Cole Hummel (.357, 3 RBI), first baseman-outfielder Jaret Reid (.333, 11 RBI), second baseman Marcos Saylor (.354, 12 RBI), outfielder D.J. Baker (.333, 7 RBI), pitcher Michael Dieneman (1-4, 6.30; .275, 8 RBI), infielder Jose Jaimes (.667 in limited action) and catcher Jack Phillips (.535, HR, 24 RBI). Newcomers in the starting line-up are outfielder Jared Wilhite and third baseman Mike Selmi.
Ransdell likes the fact that he has a veteran group back.
“We’ve been able to step up to advanced drills and not do the basic ones over and over,” Ransdell said.
Scott and Dieneman will be 1-2 on the staff. Baker went 2-0 last year, and no doubt will see some action on the mound this year.
“Peter has picked up his velocity a little bit,” Ransdell said. “His off-speed stuff is starting to break better. Dieneman is looking good. His control is coming around and he’s keeping the ball down.”
The Dust Devils have some guys that can swing the bat. Ransdell envisions a team that hits a lot of singles and doubles.
“We’re a gap-to-gap hitting team,” the first-year coach said.