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Kingsmen young, but talented

Coach Stanley likes their chances

MILWAUKIE - If he can develop some pitching, Putnam baseball coach Jason Stanley believes his Kingsmen can finish in the top half of the Northwest Oregon Conference this spring.

'I'd like to say we could finish in the top 3 or 4,' said Stanley. 'We've got the potential. Most of our impact players are young, and we've got a lot of work to do, but they have the potential to be pretty good.'

Stanley says that with the exception of pitching, he's got more depth than he had a year ago, when the Kingsmen went 5-13 (7-19 overall) and placed sixth in the Class 6A Three Rivers League.

The Kingsmen return six players with starting experience, including senior pitcher Sean Eberhardt, who earned second-team all-league honors last season as a utility player.

Eberhardt will bat No. 3 this year, and he'll play first base or right field when he's not pitching.

'Sean's our Number One,' said Stanley. 'But after Sean our pitching has not been great. We still haven't determined who will be our No. 2.'

Because in large part to the inconsistency on the mound, the Kingsmen dropped four of their first five preseason games, defeating Madison 7-6, but coming up short in games with Newberg (11-4), Central Catholic (8-2), Lakeridge (4-3) and McMinnville (13-5).

Stanley says he's got four pretty good hitters leading things off on offense in sophomore Eli Skiles, freshman Trace Loehr, Eberhardt and junior Mason Dunning.

Skiles, who moves up from jayvee to start in centerfield, has been the Kingsmen's leadoff batter.

Loehr, whom Stanley insists has the potential to play baseball at the major college level, has been starting at shortstop and hitting second.

'He's got it all,' Stanley said of Loehr. 'He can run, he can hit and he can field. He's a future Division I player.'

Dunning, who started at first a year ago, is starting at third this spring.

Eberhardt, Dunning and sophomore designated hitter Justin Wyler have already hit home runs this season.

Putnam senior Matt Harvey returns to start at second base and senior Garrett Therrell returns to start at catcher.

Senior Andy Fry (left field) and junior Nathan Edwards (third base) also return with starting experience.

The Kingsmen got a glimpse of how competitive they might be last summer, when they gave Sherwood a run for its money in a 2-1 loss.

'Sherwood has a real good senior class and they're three-deep in pitching,' said Stanley. 'They'll be the favorite [to win the Northwest Oregon Conference]. After that, I think it should be a pretty balanced league.'

The Kingsmen host McKay in a preseason game today at 5 p.m. They finish up the preseason on Friday, when they face Clackamas on the road.

Putnam begins NWOC play next Tuesday with an away game with Parkrose.