Depth is the buzz word for this year's University of Nevada baseball team and several local stars figure to be right in the mix.
Led by Dayton's Matt Bowman, this area should be well-represented on this year's Wolf Pack baseball team, which opens the season on Jan. 26 at St. Mary's. Other local stars who hope to play a prominent role this year for Nevada are Western Nevada Community College's Tyson Jaquez, Carson High's and Western Nevada Community College's Aaron Henry, Carson's Owen Brolsma and Galena's Rod Scurry. Here's a season outlook for the five players:
Matt Bowman - The junior has already had two stellar years with Nevada and is coming off a banner season in which finished second in the Western Athletic Conference with a .376 average. He's the top returning hitter in the WAC and is among about 120 players named to the Wallace Award Watch List, which honors college baseball's top player.
He's also coming off a summer in which he played for the National Baseball Congress World Series champions, the Santa Barbara Foresters. Despite his outstanding year last season, Bowman was shut out of any all-WAC honors.
"Actually it's a little motivation," said Bowman about last year's snub. "I've just got to play that much better this year."
Bowman said it's humbling to be placed on the Wallace Award Watch list since a player he really admired as a freshman, Jacob Butler, was also on that list. Bowman called it a "real shock and a real honor."
Bowman has played mostly in the infield his first two years and the plan was to move him to the outfield this season. But Nevada has a plethora of outfielders, so Bowman has been moved back to third base and is also working out at shortstop.
He hasn't seen regular action at shortstop since he played at Dayton, but Bowman said his workouts at the position has gone well there. Last year Bowman was bothered by arm problems, which he has overcome. "My arm isn't an issue at all," he said.
He admitted "as far as collegiate shortstops go" he has "little below arm strength." But Bowman says he makes up for that with his aggressive play at the position.
"We have a lot of outfielders that can really swing," said Bowman about why he was moved back to the infield.
One thing's for sure, no matter where Bowman plays, he'll be in the lineup, very likely in the No. 3 hole. "I think one, two or three," said Bowman about where he'll hit.
Bowman also likes this year's team. "We have more depth than this year than I've everseen on a team since I've been here," he said. "A lot of guys are palying different positions. It's going to depend on who's hitting well."
Tyson Jaquez - After an outstanding year at WNCC, Jaquez enrolled at Nevada as a sophomore. Jaquez was recruited as a third baseman, but with the potential of Bowman playing third, he's also been working out at first. Either way, Jaquez is competing for a starting spot at third or first.
"I feel like I'm doing all right," Jaquez said. "I didn't have as good of a fall as I wanted to. I feel a lot better now."
Jaquez said he likes the fact that there's a lot of competition. "We're really deep this year," he said. "It's good to have competition."
Other than playing first base for the Sierra Sun Devils, Jaquez said he hasn't played the position.
"I don't mind first base," he said. "It's just the same. It's just the opposite corner. I don't mind it at all."
Jaquez said he made the right decision to come to Nevada. "I don't have any regrets about leaving or anything," he said. "But it's supposed to be that way."
About his time at WNCC, Jaquez said, "It was the best year of baseball I've ever had."
Jaquez also said his time at WNCC prepared him well for the next level.
Aaron Henry - The 2004 CHS graduate comes to Nevada after an outstanding year at WNCC. Henry has been playing all three outfield positions, but said he's been working out mainly in center and right.
Henry's fighting for a starting spot, but it's a tough battle against several other outfielders, including Arizona transfer Jason Sadoian.
"My swing's feeling really good lately," said Henry, a junior. "I haven't had a lot of results, but I feel pretty good."
Henry said he also likes the competition. "It's a real tight competition it seems like," he said. "There's a lot of outfielders. Every outfielder's pretty good defensively.
"It's all about who's hitting the ball. It's always nice to have competition. It helps to bring out the best in you."
Owen Brolsma - The 2003 CHS graduate, a junior, battled through Tommy John surgery as he spent the better part of two seasons as a relief pitcher at Nevada. But Brolsma has returned to his original position, catcher.
"It was my decision," said Brolsma about moving back to catcher. "I didn't like this game as much as a pitcher."
The chance to hit was another reason why he made the switch, Brolsma said. "I get to swing the bat," he said. "That's a big part of the decision."
Brolsma knows he'll be hard-pressed to crack the lineup at catcher, especially with such players as seniors Baker Krukow and Arizona transfer Konrad Schmidt at the position.
"I definitely want to make an impact," said Brolsma, who's been bothered by a nagging hamstring injury for the past couple of months. "I want to go in there and get some time.
"I've definitely got my work cut out for me. I'll just work hard every day and try to crack the lineup. Anything I can do for the team right now is pretty much the role I can fill."
While Brolsma isn't looking past this year, his chance for playing time should increase considerably next season with the loss of Krukow and Schmidt.
"I do have that fifth year left for me," Brolsma said. "That's something coach (Gary) Powers has talked about with me."
Rod Scurry - Scurry, a junior, comes to Nevada from Galena by way of Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., where last year helped Sierra reach the State Community College Final Four. Scurry was mainly a starting pitcher for Sierra, but also worked as a closer.
It's looking like Scurry will be the No. 2 starter for Nevada behind Ryan Rodriguez. It's likely Scurry will receive the start on Saturday, Jan. 27 against St. Mary's.
"Definitely what I want to be is a starter," said the right-handed Scurry. "It's a lot of hard work. I'm happy with the decision to come back here from Sierra College."
Scurry, though, said he'll pitch where needed. "Wherever they need me that is where I'll play, starter, middle relief, closer, situational places, wherever it may be."
"It should be exciting," said Scurry about making the start in Nevada's second game. "It's a great feeling."
He also talked about the team's depth. "We've got a lot of depth," he said. "The bullpen's really deep."
Scurry said the other players who have been in the program for a while have told him "this is the best team chemistry we've had in quite some time."