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Getting into the swing

Jesuit and Westview are favorites in the coming Metro race


by: MILES VANCE - HE'S READY - Jesuit junior Christian Martinek was named Pitcher of the Year in the Metro League for 2012 and is aiming to lead his team to a league championship and long Class 6A state playoff run in 2013.

The mighty, mighty Metro League took a few lumps in the 2012 state baseball playoffs.

Sure, Jesuit was just a hit away from beating eventual Class 6A state champion Oregon City in the quarterfinals, but compared to 2011 when Westview won the state crown and the Crusaders reached the semis, last year was a bit of a downer.

The coming 2013 season may just cure that.

Jesuit is back and loaded and hungry to right the wrongs of 2012. Westview looks ready to regain the prominence of 2011. Beaverton and Southridge believe they have what it takes to compete, and Sunset and Aloha both promise to challenge as well.

“Jesuit has to be the favorite,” said Sunset coach Danny Adams. Christian Martinek, Matt Decker and Buddy Webb “seem like they’ve been there forever. They can win in a lot of ways.”

“Of course Jesuit will be the favorite to win the league, but anything can happen in the Metro,” said Southridge coach Joe Monahan. But “the playoff spots are wide open. The Metro league is very competitive and perhaps the toughest league in the state.”

While Jesuit is the consensus pick to win in 2013, it’s almost a sure thing that the Crusaders will get tested along the way.

“Westview is always good. They have great players and an excellent program,” said Jesuit coach Tim Massey. “Beaverton will be very good — they may return the most players — Southridge has key players returning who are very good, Sunset had a good summer and is always competitive and sound. And Aloha is on the upswing.”

“There are a bunch of teams in the Metro that have a solid chance to win the league,” agreed Aloha coach Tige McSwain. “Beaverton, Jesuit, and Westview are all well-coached teams and have outstanding players. Southridge and Sunset will also be strong contenders.”

Following are preview’s of the Metro League’s six varsity baseball teams.

ALOHA

ALOHA — The Aloha baseball team’s first year under head coach Tige McSwain — the team’s third coach in three years — was not what either the Warriors or McSwain wanted.

Aloha struggled to a 1-14 record in the ever-competitive Metro League and went just 3-22 overall, but the Warriors know that none of that matters now. They are ready for better things in 2013, whatever that entails.

“The Metro is tough every year. It seems like every team just reloads,” said McSwain. “Every team is tough and can play well (but) we are hoping to compete with everyone in our league.”

This year’s Aloha team will be led by senior outfielder Cooper Nagy and senior outfielder/pitcher CJ Eytel, a second-team all-leaguer a year ago who’s on the mend from both leg and shoulder injuries.

Nagy “has become a leader with his play and work ethic,” McSwain said, adding that Eytel is the team’s “vocal leader.”

Also back with varsity experience are junior pitcher/third baseman Nate Christophersen, junior pitcher/outfielder Richard Belog, junior pitcher/shortstop Nick Christophersen and junior pitcher/outfielder Carson Richards.

Also ready for prominent roles are junior catcher Joseph Romero, sophomore catcher Toby King, Romero and senior Brian Quinn at first base, sophomore Josh Williams at second, junior Dylan Griffin at third, Nagy and Belog in left field, Nagy and Eytel in center, and King and senior Grant Meyer in right.

The Warriors’ pitching rotation will include Nick Christophersen, Belog, Eytel, Richards and Nate Christophersen. Also due for varsity time will be sophomore infielder Josh Williams and junior catcher Mickey York.

“The key to our success this year will lie in our defense,” McSwain added. “We believe that if we can play solid defense and not beat ourselves, we will give ourselves a chance to compete.”

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — The Beavers were one of the Metro League’s best, and one of the state’s best teams in 2012.

And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be even better in 2013.

Beaverton brings back six varsity returners from last year’s state quarterfinalist, including all-leaguers in junior pitcher Blake Lorentz (first team), senior outfielder Connor Shaw (second team), senior first baseman Joey Losk (second team) and junior catcher Justin Wakem (honorable mention).

“Our goal as always to is to win league,” said Beaverton coach Derek Nekoba. But “our league is very competitive so the importance of winning every series is our goal.”

The team’s plethora of experienced returners — which also includes sophomore shortstop Casey Cornwell and senior outfielder Mason Shaw — means that almost anyone can step up on any given day.

“Any given day, it can be a different guy. They all keep each other in check and push each other to get better every day,” Nekoba said.

Around the diamond, it will be Wakem at catcher, Losk, Josh Hill and Colin Lipps at first base, Ryan Cowley at second, Cornwell at shortstop, Robbie Valentine, Lorentz, Austin Dunham and Lipps at third, Connor Shaw and Sam Eppler in left field, Joe Bland and Eppler in center, and Mason Shaw and Jacob Fought in right.

As to the team’s pitching rotation — led by Lorentz and Connor Shaw — Nekoba said that as long as his pitchers stay within themselves, they should be just fine.

“If our pitching can come around and guys step up and do what they are capable of and not try to do too much, we will be OK,” he said. “Our defense will need to make plays behind our pitching staff, but I think if we can do those things, we will be successful.”

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — There aren’t a lot of firsts left to athletes at Jesuit High School.

The Crusaders thought they might just win their first-ever state baseball title in 2012 but dropped a two-day, nine-inning game to eventual champion Oregon City in the state quarterfinals. Now, Jesuit is back and hungry to break through in 2013.

If we “get better every day, improve on the little things and play for the team, not ourselves, we should be competitive and have a chance to win more than we lose,” said Jesuit coach Tim Massey, whose team won its first Metro League title since 2007 last spring.

This year’s team will be led by three returning first-team all-leaguers — junior pitcher Christian Martinek — the 2012 Metro League Pitcher of the Year — senior catcher Matt Decker and senior second baseman Buddy Webb. Senior Nick Choruby is back, too, at shortstop after winning second-team all-Metro League honors in 2012.

Jesuit brings back more experience in junior Tucker Hamilton at catcher, junior Evan Haberle at third, senior Brian DeGrandmont in left field, and junior Trent Werner in center.

Also due for varsity time are junior Ken Carlson at first, junior Josh Anderson, senior Pat Graham and junior Marco Albanese in right field, sophomore infielder Tommy Kaempf, senior utility player Connor Groth, and sophomore catcher Thomas Vickers.

“You can have all the talent in the world, but you’ve got to do the little things if you want to do well,” Massey said. “We’ve go to be committed to that, and we’ve got to be committed to the team goals and not to individual goals.”

Jesuit’s pitching rotation will be led by Martinek, Decker and a host of others, including Werner, Choruby, Carlson, juniors Thomas Swide, Michael Skayhan, Jacob Heath, Wyatt Neff, and sophomores Tanner Ueland and Cole French.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — The component parts are there.

The arms are there.by: MILES VANCE - HITTER - Southridge senior Jacob Zanon is back to lead the Skyhawks after winning first-team all-league and all-state honors at the end of his junior season.

The desire to prove themselves is there.

So what can hold the Skyhawks back in 2013?

“Our goal is to compete for a league and state title,” said first-year coach Joe Monahan, who comes to Southridge with 20 years of coaching experience, most recently at West Linn and Horizon Christian. “We believe that we have the talent and ability to be a great team, but it will require us to never leave our talents in the dugout. We need to leave them on the field at all times.”

Southridge returns a first-team all-league and all-state player in senior shortstop Jacob Zanon, second-team all-leaguers in senior pitcher Reza Aleaziz and senior outfielder Chandler Whitney, and an honorable mention returner in senior catcher Tanner Green.

Zanon “is our best overall athlete. Reza has emerged as a strong leader has really improved his bat to go along with his great pitching,” Monahan said, adding that Whitney is “swinging good bat” while “Green has really stepped up and is solid behind the plate and is off to a great start swinging the bat.”

Around the rest of the diamond, Southridge will look to juniors Parker Stidham and David Knudsen at first base, senior Austin Boling and junior Sam Rzepecki at second, senior Stephen Wendt, Stidham and junior Alex Beekman at third, junior Brannon Rains in centerfield, and sophomore Bryce Roesch and Phil Thoma in the outfield.

“The key for us is to stay focused on doing the little things right and being committed to getting better every day,” Monahan said.

Aleaziz and Zanon will lead the pitching rotation, with Stidham a likely third starter, followed by Knudsen, Whitney, Rains, Roesch, and sophomores Matt Orcutt and Nolan LaFollette. The rest of the lineup will include junior Austin Miles, sophomore Cameron Nowack and junior Ryan Rocereto.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — This year’s Sunset seems to be a living contradiction.

The Apollos have a brand new head coach — Danny Adams — who has a ton of experience, and a ton of upperclassmen with only a moderate amount of varsity experience.

That said, the Apollos hope to rectify that dissonance and wind up competitive yet again in 2013.

“We have a lot of seniors, but not a lot of varsity experience,” said Adams, a longtime Sunset assistant who takes over as head coach this year. But “I think we can stay in the middle of the pack.”

The Apollos don’t have a returning all-leaguer, but feel confident in the leadership of senior second baseman Trevor Caldwell, senior pitcher Dylan Hollister, senior outfielder Ben Burros and junior shortstop Kasey Porter.

“Caldwell had a great run in the playoffs last year and will be a key for starting our offense,” Adams said, adding that Hollister “will lead our staff” and Porter “got a lot of experience at varsity last year and will help us both on the mound and hitting.”

Around the rest of the diamond, Sunset will call on senior Macklin Turnquist and sophomore Nick Pullen at catcher, junior Chad Maheu and senior Garrett Nordyke at first base, Caldwell and senior Mason Crow at second, Porter and junior Jake Neeson at shortstop, Neeson and senior Jake Colombo at third, and seniors Burros, Tyler Kalimanis, Taylor Rhodes and Crow in the outfield.

The pitching rotation will include Hollister, Colombo, Porter and Nordyke as likely starters, with Rhodes, Caldwell, Neeson and Burros in relief. Also due for varsity time are senior infielder/catcher Dom Black, senior infielder/pitcher Preston Nelson, and senior outfielder/pitcher Trevor Rude.

“We just have to hit enough and score runs,” Adams said. “We lost a lot of one-run games last year and we will pitch and play defense well enough to win if we give our pitchers a chance.”

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview’s defense of its 2011 state championship didn’t go exactly as planned.

The Wildcats, who graduated a huge crop of seniors from their title team, raced through an eight-game winning streak early on, but dropped five of seven at one point and eventually lost in the first round of the state playoffs.

But Westview may be poised for big things again in 2013. The team brings back four all-leaguers (Shane Suyama, Kyle Henderson, Connor Zwetsch and Ray Ayo), a bundle of quality arms and a desire to get back on top.

“I think on paper Jesuit has to be the favorite, not that we’re conceding anything,” said Westview coach Steve Antich. “But I think we’re maybe a nose ahead of Beaverton, Sunset, Southridge and Aloha.”

Senior third baseman Suyama, senior catcher Kyle Henderson and senior pitcher Zwetsch all won second-team all-Metro honors in 2012, while Ayo — a senior second baseman — won a place on the honorable mention team.

Suyama is “one of our key guys. He’s been through a lot with us,” Antich said, adding that Henderson has “a lot of experience. He’s one of our best all-around players and a leader.”

Around the rest of the diamond, Westview will call on Zwetsch (“He’s the key for us offensively,” Antich said. “He’s got a lot of power and he can carry us”) and sophomore Teagan Lind at first, seniors Sam Love and Noah Braukmann at second and shortstop, sophomore Parker Kelly at shortstop, senior Cole Steerman at third, and in the outfield, senior Jeremy Erisman, junior Kyle Cox, senior Tyler Niles, Steerman, Love and junior Robby Hutchinson.

The pitching rotation will be led by Zwetsch, Erisman, Kelly, Cox and Lind, along with Braukmann and senior Frankie Delgado. The rest of the lineup will include senior catcher/first baseman Kenneth Ancell and junior infielder Bryan Paul.



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