Valiants expect more success on diamond
VC reached the 3A title game a year ago, and now is back for more
BEAVERTON - The 2010 season was, without a doubt, the best in Valley Catholic baseball history.
The Valiants rolled to the championship of the West Valley League, then just kept right on rolling until they reached the Class 3A state championship game for the first time in school history.
VC enters this year with a new head coach and playing in a new league, but believes it is poised for a second straight strong season.
'I think we have a great chance to win our league again this year, but I think the league will be very competitive top to bottom,' said Valley Catholic coach Pat Thomas, who previously served as an assistant under former head coach Sawyer Smith.
The Valiants enter their first season in the Lewis and Clark League with three all-leaguers on hand, that group led by senior shortstop/pitcher Cesar Catibayan, the 2010 WVL Player of the Year and a first-team all-stater.
'I think he's the best defensive shortstop in the state at our level; he is a spectacular athlete with a great arm,' Thomas said. 'He has also developed into a very good pitcher. He worked hard this winter gaining command of two off-speed pitches.'
Senior center fielder Ryan Foote returns after winning first-team all-WVL honors a year ago, as does junior right fielder Jackson Neff, who won honorable mention honors a year ago.
Around the infield, VC will look to freshman Liam Walsh and senior Nick McDevitt at catcher, freshman Carter Buuck at first base, freshman Jarrett Gray at second, Catibayan and freshman Liam Meagher at shortstop, and sophomore Nick Quandt, Walsh, freshman Mitch Sheldon and Meagher at third.
In the outfield, it will be Foote in center, Neff in right, and freshman Sam Teague and senior Justin Dale in right.
The starting pitching rotation will include Catibayan, Buuck, Meagher and Quandt, while Meagher, Sheldon, sophomore Carlos Catibayan and Neff may all see time in relief.
Also due for time this year are junior outfielder Juan Aleman, sophomore second baseman Chris Curtis, sophomore outfielder Anthony Wallace, and freshman infielder Jeremy Shidner.
As talented as VC is, they know that their young players will have key roles this year and know that those young players will have to come through for the team to have a chance.
'One of our big keys will be the performance we get from our young kids,' THomas said. 'I think we know about what we will get from our returning leaders, but we have six freshmen who could all see significant varsity time this year. It's probably the best class we've ever had, but the jump up to high school ball is still a big one.'
Thomas said he expects Rainier and Warrenton to be the top contenders for the league title, while Corbett will also likely be in the hunt for a playoff spot this year.