Carson baseball ready for season
Nothing has changed over the years with the Carson High baseball team. The high standards remain the same.
And while this year’s club may be less experienced than last season’s team, it actually may be more versatile and have more depth.
“Hopefully we’re starting to build our own little tradition,” said Carson coach Steve Cook, who enters his third year at the helm of the program. Cook took over for longtime coach Ron McNutt, for whom he was a player at CHS himself. “The kids know what to expect and how we want them to play the game.”
The Senators have just seven seniors this year. “All very talented,” Cook said. Carson should also have plenty of depth on the mound with as many as 11 of the 19 players on the roster who can pitch.
Many of the players on the roster are also on the depth chart at several positions. “We’re carrying some kids who play multiple positions,” Cook said. “The number of kids able to play different positions gives us a lot of flexibility. Nineteen kids is a perfect number for us.”
Carson also figures to depend heavily on its top four pitchers, who all saw extensive action last year: Tony Fagan, Kyle Mandoki, Rob Valerius and Nick Smallman.
“We’ve got a lot of quality at the top of our pitching rotation,” Cook said. Mandoki and Fagan will be two of the three pitchers in the starting rotation.
It’s planned that Smallman, who was one of Carson’s top relievers last year, will be the third starter in the rotation. But the left-handed Valerius, who saw action as a starter and a reliever last year, should see time as a starter as well. Matt Rutledge and Paul Cagle will be two others who will see time as starters.
Among the programs interested in Fagan, who should be a two-way player in college, is the Pac 10’s Arizona. Fagan originally gave a non-binding verbal commitment to Western Nevada Community College and Cook said Fagan could eventually still end up there.
“I think WNCC is still in the running,” Cook said. “He’s definitely a good enough ballplayer to play at the next level.”
WNCC is also looking at Mandoki. Among the schools looking at Smallman is Occidental College in Los Angeles.
In addition, Carson has the left-handed Stephen Sawyers. “He has no fear when it comes to throwing inside,” Cook said. “He thinks the dish is his.”
Others who add depth on the mound are Kyle Stone and David Eller. Joe Scates, who will be Carson’s starting centerfielder and will bat leadoff, could pitch as well, but Cook said Scates, a four-year varsity player, will focus mainlyon the outfield.
David Leid will be the starting catcher. “David’s a very good receiver,” Cook said. Carson has a more than capable backup in Brooks Greenlee, last year’s starting catcher.
Greenlee, who should see most of his time at shortstop, is one of Northern Nevada’s top players along with Fagan and has signed to play at WNCC where he’s been recruited as a catcher. There’s also Cody Bone and Cagle at catcher.
Valerius should see plenty of starting time at first. Cagle and Sawyers should share time at the position as well. “He’s got very good feet and very soft hands,” said Cook about Cagle.
Markus Adams, a returning varsity player, will start at second. Kevin Holloway, Stone and Brett Valley add depth at the position. Adams, Stone, Bryt Lewis and possibly Matt Rutledge can all back up Greenlee at shortstop. It’s planned for Adams to make the move to shortstop next year.
Lewis should start at third or as the designated hitter. In addition, Cagle, Adams, Eller, Smallman and Stone could all see time at third.
Drew Good, Mandoki, Rutledge, Sawyers and Smallman can all play left. Fagan and Rutledge can back up Skates in center while Fagan will start in right when he’s not pitching. When Fagan’s pitching, Rutledge is the most likely candidate for right. Virtually all of the players on the roster are candidates to be the DH.
Carson will be hard pressed to make it to the NIAA 4A State Tournament this year as only one team from the North will travel to Southern Nevada for state. The prohibitive favorite to make it to state is defending Northern 4A champion Galena, which returns a strong nucleus.
In the Sierra League, among the top teams again will be defending league champion Reno High and Douglas, which also returns a strong nucleus. “Douglas is always going to be a tough game because it’s Douglas,” Cook said. “I think Johnny (Douglas coach John Glover) always gets their kids ready better than anybody in the North.”
Carson will open the season in its preseason tournament on Thursday, March 8 with two games. The Senators will play Truckee at 9 a.m. and Lassen, Calif., at 7 p.m. at Ron McNutt Field.