Flexibility will be key to Carson success

Carson shortstop Josiah Pongasi throws to first to complete a force play against Truckee on Friday at Carson High School.

Carson shortstop Josiah Pongasi throws to first to complete a force play against Truckee on Friday at Carson High School.

When you glance at Carson High’s 2015 baseball roster, two things stand out, youth and flexibility.

The Senators, who went 10-12 in league a year ago, have just four returners from last year’s squad.

Carson opens the season Thursday in the Mike Bearman Tournament. The Senators host Truckee on Thursday at 3:30 weather permitting, play at Reed (2 p.m.) and at Reno (6 p.m.) on Friday and then play Douglas (1 p.m.) and Galena (4 p.m.) at home on Saturday.

“The first few games I’m going to give guys opportunities to establish themselves,” coach Brian Manoukian said. “I like this year’s team. I love these guys. They come out here and work hard. The team chemistry is awesome.”

Manoukian has four seniors — shortstop Josiah Pongasi (.343 in league), utility player Nolan Shine, corner infielder, pitcher and catcher Brandon Allen (.354 league, .276 overall) and Seamus Burns (.286 overall), who can pitch, play outfield and second base. The rest of the squad is comprised of sophomores and juniors.

The flexibility is something Manoukian has always stressed. Of the 15-player roster, Manoukian said 13 players have pitched at one time or another since they started playing the game, and nearly everybody on this year’s roster is capable of playing a second or third position.

“I’ve made a big push for that,” Manoukian said. “At Carson we have a lot of multi-sport athletes, and that’s a plus. You want good athletes out there, and we have that.”

Here’s a position-by-position look at this year’s team:

Pitching

There are a bunch of arms, but the main guys are sophomore lefty Bryce Moyle, junior right-hander Joe Nelson, junior John Holton (.231 hitter), senior Brandon Allen, junior Kyle Krebs, junior righty Terek Been and senior Josiah Pongasi, who’s mainly going to be used in relief. Burns saw limited action in relief last year.

Moyle was impressive in a late-season call-up, registering a win and save against Douglas at the end of the year.

“We have a lot of capable guys,” Manoukian said. “We have four, five and even six guys that I would consider starters. That will come in handy when we have to play four games in a week.”

Catcher

The team’s two catchers from a year ago opted not to return, so the work falls to Krebs, Allen and possibly Shine. Krebs started on the JV squad and this past summer, and Allen has no real experience behind the plate, but has been making progress.

“Both of these guys are pitchers, too,” Manoukian said. “Brandon also plays some first and third, too. He swings a good bat, and we need to find spots for him. Brandon got a couple of bullpens last year. He’s more than capable of catching. Kyle has been solid.”

Corner Infield

The same names will pop up — Holton, Allen and Jace Keema at third, and Holton, Allen and Been at first base. Holton played some in the field as a sophomore. Much of the playing time will depend on who will be on the mound.

“John has worked very hard over the past winter (on his hitting),” Manoukian said. “Jace gives us good offense and defense, and he could play some middle infield down the road, catch and even pitch.”

Middle Infield

Pongasi, who hit .340 last season, and Conner Pradere, who saw spot duty on the varsity last year, start at short and second, respectively. Pradere is the top back-up at short, and Burns is currently backing up Pradere.

Outfield

Jesse Lopez, Jordan Anderson, Burns, Kyle Gagnon, Cody Azevedo, Moyle, Nelson and Shine are among the outfield candidates.

Lopez, Moyle, Azevedo, Burns and Nelson played during the summer. Azevedo played a lot of centerfield, as the team searches for a replacement for the graduated T.J. Thomsen. Lopez is likely going to be in left and Nelson in right when he isn’t pitching. Moyle is going to play outfield when he’s not pitching.

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