VC hopes to win the Lewis & Clark League with its strong pitching

BEAVERTON — The 2012 season ended way too soon for Valley Catholic’s liking.

The Valiants, after battling to second place in the Lewis & Clark League and winning a Class 3A state playoff berth, took the long road trip to Burns in the first round of the playoffs, and then the even longer ride home after a 10-7 MILES VANCE - VC STAR - Valley Catholic junior pitcher Carter Buuck threw a perfect game in his team's 2013 opener and hopes to lead his team to big-time playoff success this year.

VC is determined not to let that happen again in 2013.

“I think we will be in the hunt for a league championship. We’ve had chances to win the league in our last game each of the last two years and haven’t gotten it done,” said Valley Catholic coach Pat Thomas, whose team has been second in the L&C each of the past two years. “We want to ... finish the job this year.”

The Valiants may just have the talent to do it too, thanks to the return of junior pitcher Carter Buuck ( a first-team all-leaguer a year ago who kicked off 2013 with a perfect game against Scappoose), senior pitcher/first baseman Nick Quandt (another first-teamer), junior outfielder Sam Teague (a second teamer) and junior catcher Liam Meagher (another second teamer).

“Carter is one of the very best 3A pitchers in the state. He has added velocity in the off-season ... has command of three pitches and loves to compete. He will throw any pitch in any count and has absolutely no fear,” Thomas said, adding that Quandt “really knows how to pitch. He’s a crafty righty who throws a ton of strikes, changes speeds well, and like Carter, loves to pitch. They are the heart of our rotation and I’m extremely confident in both of them.”

That said, the Valiants are dealing with the loss of two all-leaguers — junior Jarrett Gray chose not to play this year and sophomore Clay Kemper will likely miss the season due to an arm injury suffered during wrestling season.

Around the rest of the diamond, Valley Catholic will look to Buuck and Quandt at first base, freshman Alex Hyland at second, senior Liam Cassidy at shortstop, junior Liam Walsh at third, and Teague and senior Carlos Catibayan leading the way in the outfield. Also due for time in the outfield are senior Chris Custer, sophomore Jacob Vincent, freshman Ethan Cape and sophomore David Baglai. Cape may also see time at third base.

“Sam Teague and Liam Meagher are year-round baseball players who have worked constantly to get better since their freshmen years,” Thomas said. “They are our two most powerful hitters and will be in the middle of the lineup for us all year.”

Joining Buuck and Quandt in the pitching rotation will be Catibayan, Teague and Hyland, with backup help from Meagher and Cassidy.

Thomas said he expects 2012 L&C champion Rainier, Clatskanie and Warrenton all to battle for the league title this year.

“Clatskanie probably returns the deepest team this year. They were young last year and are off to a great start,” Thomas said. “Rainier and Warrenton each lost a lot of seniors, but they are both well-coached and they both have star pitchers who will give them a chance to win every game they throw.”

Also on the roster for VC are sophomore outfielder Rei Yoshioka, freshman infielder Andres Vega, freshman infielder/pitcher Jakob Pruitt, sophomore outfielder Zach Creitz and freshman outfielder Zach Quinonez.

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