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Former Metro foes become friends, teammates at WNC

Once heated rivals in the pressure cooker that is the Metro League, Westview’s Kyle Henderson, Jesuit’s Buddy Webb and Sunset’s Dylan Hollister are now not just playing for the same collegiate baseball team.

They’re also sharing the same roof. Ditto for the kitchen. And oh yeah, the bathroom too.

The trio of former Metro baseball stars each signed with Western Nevada College as high school seniors and decided to live together in the same townhouse in Carson City. Henderson, Webb and Hollister moved down to Carson City on Aug. 4 in hopes of winning a Junior College National Championship while securing scholarships to either a Division One or Two university.

All of a sudden, three guys, who are fiercely loyal to their alma maters and went at each other’s throats for four years, are living within feet of each other. They’re all fighting for the same cause on the field for the Wildcats as well. by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Former Sunset pitcher Dylan Hollister hopes to continue his baseball career for as long as possible, starting at Western Nevada College.

It’s been a cordial start to the budding relationship, Henderson said. Henderson has handled the cooking duties, much to the delight of Webb and Hollister, who applauded their teammate’s abilities in the kitchen. Hailing from the Beaverton area, the old foes already have something in common, other than their love of baseball.

“It makes it easier meeting people just because you’re coming from the same place,” said Webb. “Playing with and against these guys all through high school, I know them pretty well, and it made the transition easier. It’s nice to live in the same house as people you already know, so you don’t have any problems.”

However, that doesn’t mean the threesome doesn’t like to flap their gums at each other and stand up for their school.

“I don’t let Buddy forget that we won two league championships when me and him were playing against each other,” Henderson said. “I won’t let him forget that (Christian) Martinek vs. Carson Kelly game, where Martinek threw a two-hitter, but Carson gave up no runs, and we walked off the field with a ‘W’. Also, I won’t let him forget that 18-0 blowout in the state semifinals.”

All three played on the same Baseball Northwest travel team, but when spring rolled around, the new-found friends put pleasantries to the side. Metro battle lines were drawn in the sand, especially between Webb and Henderson, who were apart of some epic Westview-Jesuit clashes over the years. Henderson’s Wildcats won the overall war between the two powers, as Westview won a pair of league titles and routed Jesuit in the 2011 state semifinals.

“There’s a lot of trash-talk for sure,” noted Webb. “I’m usually on the losing end of it, being that Westview won most of the league championships.”by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Former Jesuit second baseman Buddy Webb, seen here last season, is suiting up at Western Nevada College with Westviews Kyle Henderson and Dylan Hollister.

Hollister, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound, right-handed pitcher, tries to represent Sunset as best he can in the trash-talk arena and make sure they get their due, too.

“They (Webb and Henderson) talk crap, but I just look the other way,” laughed Hollister. “There’s nothing I really need to say to defend it.”

Beaverton recruits

WNC is viewed as a stepping stone or link to the next level of college baseball — whether it be Division One, Two or Three. Five players from the 2013 team were inked by Division One schools while two others signed with Division Two powerhouse Dixie State College. The five join nine players from last year’s team, who signed with Division One teams, and eight from the 2011 squad. In total, a whopping 97 WNC alums have continued their careers at four-year colleges or in the professional ranks.

Webb and Henderson are accustomed to winning programs, taking into consideration both were key cogs at Jesuit and Westview throughout their respective careers. Starting in the mid 2000s, WNC has constructed a successful program that’s been to the NJCAA World Series three times and won a handful of regional and conference championships. The Wildcats have upgraded their baseball facilities as well, by giving their ball park a recent facelift and adding various amenities that appealed to the Beaverton recruits.

“They’ve been winning every season, and you always want to be on a winning club when you play baseball,” said Webb. “Their track record of winning was what attracted me. I like Carson City and the facilities. The field is sweet, and the coaching staff is really tight, too.”

Henderson was at a club ball tournament in Las Vegas last summer when he grabbed the attention of WNC head coach D.J. Whittemore. The two kept in contact through the fall, and then the former Wildcat took a recruiting visit in December, when the team was out of school but still practicing. Henderson stayed with one of his good friends, Phil Belding, a 2012 Westview grad, during the visit and had a great time familiarizing himself with WNC.

“From then on, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me,” said Henderson. “I had other options, but nothing that was this good of a program and this less expensive, I should say.”

Hollister said Athletes in Motion’s Zane Kelly sent videos of the Apollo pitcher to Whittemore and kept the skipper up-to-date on what the righty was accomplishing during the spring and summer. Hollister’s talents on the hill left an impression on Whittemore, who offered the Sunset hurler a spot on the squad.

Prime position

Webb, Henderson and Hollister are in prime position to land scholarships to bigger schools if they can get on the field early on and display their abilities. College and pro scouts have centered on WNC’s pipeline as a premier place to tap future talent. The stage is set for the three freshmen to excel and thrive.

“I just want to become more knowledgable, more consistent with my pitches, and try to psyche out batters,” said Hollister. “In the future, I just want to play baseball until I can’t anymore, whether it’s D1, pro, whatever I can do.”

Webb said his primary goal is to win a national championship with the Wildcats. He’s still playing second base — the same spot he made all-Metro at — but he’s also getting time at third to increase his future options. Webb was a defensive wizard at Jesuit, turning mind-blowing doubles with shortstop Nick Choruby and essentially shutting off half the infield with his range at second base. The field at WNC is different than the smooth Jesuit field-turf, Webb said. The ball bounces differently, but he’s adjusting on the fly.

“I’m kind of banking on my glove being something that helps me get on the field early,” said Webb. “I want to keep after my goal of playing some pro ball. I want to play baseball for as long as possible.”

The left-handed hitting Henderson has a hefty bat that plays on any stratum of hardball. The 6-foot-2 catcher said his two big goals — after making the team — are to earn a starting spot and perform. But, Henderson said initially, he just wants to take the process one step at a time.

“I’m not going to get ahead of myself, go out and say I’m a starting catcher because I’m going to do whatever I need to get on the field and make the squad,” said Henderson. “Obviously, we want to win a national championship here. We have a really good team, a lot of returning guys and good freshmen. I think it’s a realistic goal.”

There are seven players on the WNC team who hail from Oregon, including freshman first baseman Connor Zwestch, who played with Henderson at Westview, and Southridge’s Corey Poole.

The biggest change, the three players agreed upon, is getting used to the higher elevation of Carson City. Practice is going well, and though the team is just beginning to jell, Hollister said he’s excited about the squad’s potential. The Wildcats hit the ground running this summer, starting a Fall Scrimmage Season on Aug. 24 that runs through mid-October.

Henderson said the trio has made a smooth transition to the school, and everyone who’s moving to Nevada is starting to get in the groove.

“Everybody’s getting to practice every day on time. We’re getting there early to get extra work in, but it’s great,” said Henderson. “We’re at a great program.”



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