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Carson baseball looks to make run to state

Charles Whisnand column

Even Carson High baseball coach Ron McNutt was guilty of the cliche, “wait until next year.”

But McNutt couldn’t be blamed if he was already thinking about 2002 at the end of the 2001 season. His young team had just finished a successful year and McNutt knew he had 18 players returning.

“Actually when last season was over, I started thinking about next year,” he said. “We had a young team last year.”

So the obvious goal for Carson is to advance to the NIAA/U.S. Bank 4A State Championships. But McNutt knows it will be tough since only two teams from Northern Nevada will advance to state in a division that again figures to be tough.

“That’s what makes it tough,” McNutt said. “As a coach, I’m just hoping we’re one of the two.

“I always want to win a conference championship. But I’d rather peak at the right time.”

Carson figures to have an advantage with a deep pitching staff in the new format for conference play in which conference opponents will play three-game series — once on Thursdays and doubleheaders on Saturdays.

Carson has many pitchers who saw action last year. They include all-conference first teamer Tim Priess, all-league second teamer Ryan Buttner, Ryan Henry, Todd Hendrix and 6-4 sophomore Scott DeFriez.

“We’re looking for great things from him,” said McNutt about DeFriez.

Like all of the pitchers on the staff, Hendrix, who became the team’s relief ace last year, can fill several roles, including that of a starter.

“I’m sure there’s going to be times when he starts for us,” said McNutt about Hendrix.

McNutt said he hopes to have a more clear starting rotation after this weekend’s Carson High preseason tournament, which is scheduled to begin today.

Another player who should see more time on the mound will be starting outfielder Ben Moore, who was an all-league second team pick last year. McNutt said Moore was impressive on the mound last summer for the Carson Capitols. “He’s looking really, really good,” McNutt said.

Another player who could see time on the mound is third baseman Willie Bowman, a first-team all-leaguer last season. There are also David Camper and Eugene Soulier, who should see time on the mound.

“I feel a little more confident this year,” said McNutt about his pitching staff. “A lot of them got to throw for us last year.

“On paper we look like we’ve got a pretty good pitching staff. But they’ve got to prove it when game time comes, not on paper.”

Carson returns both of its catchers in Owen Brolsma and Murph Glover. But look for Glover to see a great deal of time at first base as well.

“We want to try to have them both in the lineup for us,” McNutt said.

Sophomore catcher David Nelsen, a left-handed hitting catcher, adds depth behind the plate. “He’s going to be a good catcher,” McNutt said.

Among others who can play first is Moore. Among those who will see time at second base is Andrew James.

Carl Winter, a three-year varsity starter, will again anchor the shortstop position.

In the outfield will be junior Neil Holmes, a three-year varsity player, Josh Burau, Ryan Gonzalez and sophomore Aaron Henry.

Designated hitter Jon Teeter, who will also see time at second base, will be the leadoff hitter. Teeter was an all-league honorable mention pick last year.

Teeter is among the many players that provide Carson with speed, which should be a team strength.

“I think we’ve got five or six guys in the lineup that can run,” McNutt said.

Among the other players who provide speed is Aaron Henry. “He runs really well,” McNutt said.

Like the pitching staff, another strength of the rest of the lineup is its versatility as many of the Carson players can play several different positions. Among them is Rodney Black, who will be a utility player who can fill in at second, short or third. “He’s a versatile player for us,” McNutt said.

“They’re all good athletes,” said McNutt about his team. “I’m just pleased with the makeup of the kids we have right now. I think these kids are battlers.”

Charles Whisnand is the Nevada Appeal Sports Editor.