by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior Richard Belog has pop in his bat and can throw heat from the mound for the Warrior baseball team thats looking to rise up the Metro ranks.

In a league brimful of blue blood, state-title toting programs that once again look destined for success, the Aloha baseball team is battling for respect and reverence this spring.

The Warriors are cognizant of the Metro League’s powers such as Westview, Jesuit and Southridge. They know with a relative lack of wins the past three years, skeptics will be quick to brush Aloha aside as simple three-game sweeps for the Metro’s elite.

However, with 10 seniors on this year’s team — including four potential stars in outfielder-pitcher Richard Belog, catcher Joseph Romero and up-the-middle infielders Nate and Nick Christophersen— and a well-respected coach in Tige McSwain, the Warriors have the makings of a Metro sleeper.

“I feel like we’re going to surprise some people this year,” said Romero. “Everybody always thinks down on Aloha, especially in baseball. But, overall this is a much better team. We definitely have the leadership that we haven’t had the last four years I’ve been here. We have 10 seniors, so hopefully that’ll help us out.”

“It’s going to take a lot of hard work, focus and intensity,” added first baseman Taylor Nelson. “If we do that, it’ll allow us to take teams by surprise and maybe take Metro, hopefully.”

The Christophersens, Romero and Belog have all played varsity since their freshmen seasons, giving McSwain a quartet of seasoned, talented seniors who know how to handle the rigors of the Metro League. The foursome has seen the best of the best when it comes to facing Metro’s top aces. But, more than just facing the prized hurlers, these seniors have achieved success. Last year in the Warriors’ series finale against Southridge, Belog hit a three-run bomb against current Oregon State pitcher Reza Aleaziz. And, the feisty Christophersens always seem to be a tough out for the Parker Kellys and the Teagan Linds of the world to sit down when Aloha goes eye-to-eye with Westview.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha junior Josh Williams had a breakout season last year as a sophomore is one of the Warrior underclassmen expected to produce this year.

“We’ve seen this competition for a while,” said Romero. “We’ve seen these pitchers for four years, so I think we have our at-bats down. We’re starting to get confident.”

Outfielder Dylan Griffin provides some big pop in the middle of the Warriors’ batting order. Junior infielder Josh Williams is a speed demon, who can get to almost any ball on the ground while providing power at the top of the lineup. Nelson —Aloha’s left-handed first baseman— has started the season strong, hitting in either the third spot or cleanup spot.

“Our lineup is a lot better than people think,” said Nelson. “The ‘Power Alley’ is going to take some people by surprise. It’s something we need to rely on in games, and anchor us in tough situations.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior infielder Nate Christophersen and head coach Tige McSwain have high hopes for the Warriors this season as a surprise team in the Metro League.

“We have a lot of potential with the young kids,” added Romero. “We have young guys that are up here (on varsity) that should be up here. It’s good they’re getting to see this kind of competition because they’re going to be seeing it for the next couple years.”

Shortstop Evan Lascelles went three-for-three with three RBIs against Milwaukee in the Warriors’ second game of the season. Lascelles, Blake Lorentz, Anthony Leino, Lorenzo Seman-Robles, Mickey York can all be plugged-and-played at different positions.

“We have to be aggressive at the plate, throw strikes on the mound, get some good defense. I’ll think we’ll be able to compete,” said Romero.

The pitching’s coming along with capable arms in Belog, lefty Brandon Eisert, and right-hander Carson Richards, among others.

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