A lot has changed for the Yerington High School baseball team in the last 12 months. Last March, the Lions began their new season with just four returnees and no previous varsity experience on the pitching staff.
But on Friday afternoon, they started out with a veteran lineup that beat Tahoe-Truckee in the season-opening Yerington Tournament.
The Lions compiled a 12-16 overall record and went 7-5 during the 3A Division II season, good for a second-place tie with Mineral County. The Mason Valley club is looking for more this spring.
"We feel like we're going to be solid," said George Ostrander, now in his ninth season as Yerington's head coach and 12th overall with the program. "We're just now starting to settle on a starting lineup. Next week we have another tournament here and Manogue's coming in. Then, after that, we head into league, and I think we'll be pretty decent."
Bill Snow, a senior who returns to Yerington after playing last year at Reed, pitched a five-inning complete game two-hitter and scored both of the Lions' runs in the opening game victory. Snow struck out eight and walked only two.
"He was our No. 2 pitcher his sophomore year, then he moved to Reed. He's back for his senior year and we're glad to have him. He's a good pitcher and a good kid," Ostrander said.
Snow joins a pitching staff that was already deep from last season, including senior Steve Compston, senior Joe Goffinet, senior Andrew Melarchik, juniors Eleazar Hernandez and Zach Roots, plus sophomores Josh Hurt, Jeff Waldaias and Howie Singer. Goffinet pitched four-hit ball in Yerington's division tournament opener against Mineral County last May, a game the Lions lost 5-3.
Matt Farler, who earned all-division recognition at second base last year, has now moved over to shortstop and stood as a defensive bright spot on Friday.
"He made some nice plays both games," Ostrander said of Farler, who delivered RBI base hits in Yerington's opening-game win against Truckee.
Snow walked and scored on Farler's double in the first inning. In the third, Snow drew another walk, stole second and scored on Farler's single to break a 1-1 tie.
Senior Michael Keats has taken over at second base, junior Zach Roots returns at first base, Tom Sceirine is back at catcher, and sophomore Josh Hurt takes over at third base to round out a solid infield. Hurt was brought up to the varsity at the end of last season.
Even with the returning experience, the Division II season will offer a stiff challenge. For starters, the team to beat is defending 3A state champion Bishop Manogue.
"Manogue lost something like two starters and Dayton should have a good team, so it's going to be tough," Ostrander said.
The Lions lost 5-1 to the Bishop (Calif.) Broncos in their second game on Friday.
Yerington plays Battle Mountain at 11 a.m. this morning and finishes the tournament with a 3 p.m. contest against Incline.