CHS baseball hopes to tame Tigers

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Starting off Sierra League play with an arch rival in cold weather may not exactly be the most ideal of situations.

But that's what the Carson and Douglas High baseball teams face in the new format for conference play. Under the format, league opponents will play three-game series, with one game on Thursday and then a doubleheader on Saturday.

The Senators and Tigers will begin that format today when Carson hosts Douglas. The Senators will then travel to Douglas for a doubleheader on Saturday.

"It really doesn't matter if I like it or not," Carson coach Ron McNutt said. "It's what everybody's going to play."

On paper, the new format figures to favor Carson and Douglas since both teams have deep pitching staffs. The Senators and Tigers are also considered to be two of the top teams in the Northern 4A division.

But McNutt said it's to be determined what benefit teams will receive from the format and that he wants his team to be considered one of the top clubs at the end of the season and not at the beginning of the year.

"My main goal is to qualify for the zone tournament and to play our best ball then," McNutt said.

With that in mind, McNutt said he's more concerned with his players being at their best at the end of the year rather than the start. He even went as far to say that some of his key players may not play against Douglas.

"Some of them may not even play this weekend," McNutt said. "They're key people in the program. We've got some kids that are really sore right now."

Because of that, Carson's pitching staff may not be at full strength, McNutt said.

But McNutt said one advantage of the new format is it's similar to what's done in college in which three-game series are routinely played, so players should be better prepared for college.

McNutt did say "it's kind of bad that we have to open up," with Douglas instead of playing the series at the end of the year.

The game will be a reunion of sorts as for the first time since 1994, McNutt and long-time Douglas coach Hal Wheeler, who returned as the Tigers' head coach this season, will square off.

McNutt said he knows that Wheeler will have his team well-prepared.

"We've got to go out and get it done," McNutt said. "We've got to be ready to play."

McNutt said he was pleased with his team's pitching during Carson's preseason tournament last week. McNutt said he knows what can happen to pitchers that are used too much early in the year at the end of the season, so he limited the number of pitches his staff threw last week.

Carson does have a deep pitching staff with Tim Priess, Ryan Buttner, Ryan Henry, Todd Hendrix, outfielder Ben Moore, third baseman Willie Bowman, Scott DeFriez, Dave Camper and Eugene Soulier.

With players like Jon Teeter, who has a tremendous on base percentage, igniting the attack, Carson also performed well offensively in last week's tournament. "I was very pleased with how we swung the bats," McNutt said.

With the exception of a breakdown in a game against North Valleys that Carson barely pulled out, McNutt said he was also pleased with his team's defense. Veteran shortstop Carl Winter is among those who anchor the defense.

With the cold weather, it's expected that pitching and defense will be the keys today and Saturday. "I just hope we go out and play good defense," McNutt said.


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