Fallon aims to extend state title run
March 8, 2018
Fun fact. The Greenwave leads the Silver State in state baseball championships.
It has more than Reno. It has more than Bishop Gorman. It's Fallon and then everyone else.
And coach Lester de Braga wants to keep it that way.
The eighth-year coach and his squad, which missed the state tournament last year, opened the 2018 season on Thursday in the annual Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament. Fallon returns nine from last year's team, which fell one game shy of making state, but welcomes seven as the Greenwave go for its 11th state title.
"We've got quite a tradition here," de Braga said about the baseball program's success. "We remind them every so often. Hopefully, they carry it on and win some more titles. It goes to show that in Fallon we have great athletes. We're loaded with great talent. Even in the 3A, we have as great athletes as anybody in the state."
Of Fallon's 16 players, only four are seniors while the junior class boasts an impressive eight. De Braga also has three sophomores and one freshman. Coaches Dave Munoz (pitching), Riley Horn (outfield and pitching) and Trevor de Braga (hitting and infield) return to assist at the varsity level, while Brett Workman and Eric Clifford are coaching junior varsity.
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"It's a good mix and we're still young," de Braga said. "Even our returners are fairly young. We've got a lot of youth."
When the season opens this weekend, de Braga will be mixing the lineup against the 4A schools while trying to find a good start pointing when league play opens next week at Sparks.
Juniors Hayden Strasdin, Edgar Alvarado and Brenden Larsen return and will lead the pitching staff. Newcomers Noah Krogg (senior), juniors Bryce Larsen and Chase Irvin, and freshman Shaw Lee also will see time on the mound.
"We've always kind of lived with the fastball and mix in the changeup and curveball every now and then," de Braga said. "We live on location: keep the ball down and on the corners. We've been successful with it."
Around the field, de Braga said the team looks as solid as any team he's coached at Fallon.
"We feel very confident with our defense," de Braga said.
It begins with Alvarado behind the plate as he'll be the primary catcher with senior returners Russell Vershum and Hunter Parsons sharing duties. At first, Strasdin and Lee will split time while Irvin, a returner, and Bryce Larsen will play at second. Junior Sean McCormick returns at shortstop and sophomore Nate Galusha will back up, and Brenden Larsen and junior Gabe Hardy will play at third.
In the outfield, sophomore Tommy McCormick and Vershum will play in left, senior returner Jake Wickizer and junior Daniel Seline will play in center, and sophomore returner Brock Richardson and Parsons will compete in right.
Hardy, Galusha and Bryce Larsen were put on varsity toward the end of last season.
At the plate, de Braga likes what he sees so far, bringing up speed as being one of the team's strengths. Fallon will mix small ball with the long ball this season but de Braga said the middle of the lineup packs quite the punch.
"In the middle of the lineup, we have a lot of power," de Braga said. "Some of those guys can hit the ball deep. We've got a great shot to return to the state games and compete. I have enough confidence in the kids with their abilities."
The key will be consistency throughout the season, peaking at the right time and carrying the momentum during the playoffs. Fallon last made the state tournament in 2016 after winning it all in 2015.
"It's being consistent on a daily level," de Braga said about the team's focus. "We strive in practice to be perfect with everything we do. Some of these kids have been out of basketball for two weeks and haven't had much time with baseball. We love to win games. We strive to be the best we can be at the end of the season when it counts. We try to get better and better and peak at the right time."
When the league season begins next week against the Railroaders, de Braga said this year could be the most balanced the league's been in the last five years. Elko and Spring Creek have stood out recently but de Braga said most teams are returning several key players.
"It's going to be a battle," he said. "It makes you good, makes you better. Playing good competition makes you better in the end. We've got to be ready to come out and play ball."