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Tigers to rely on bats, defense

The Tigard baseball team will look to answer its pitching questions
by: JAIME VALDEZ TIGER RUN — Tigard senior Drew Morris touches the plate during the Tigers’ win over Grant last week.

TIGARD - The Tigers' offensive attack looks like it could be pretty strong.

Their defense looks like it could be OK, as well.

Pitching?

Well, that might be another story for the Tigard High School baseball team going into the 2011 Pacific Conference season.

'Our question mark is our pitching,' Tigard coach Tom Campbell said. 'That's our big concern.'

But, while pitching looks to be an area of anxiety for Tigard, the Tigers are looking to make up for that in other areas of the game.

'I'm fairly pleased,' Campbell said in regard to the Tigers' outlook heading into league play. 'On offense, we're doing fine. We've got high hopes there. And, on defense, we're OK.'

Tigard, which placed third in the Pacific Conference standings at 8-7 last year while going 18-10 on the season, looks to be solid all over the field.

That especially looks to be the case behind the plate, where senior Trevor Nix returns.

Last year, as a junior, Nix was a first-team all-Pacific Conference pick at catcher.

Senior returnee Eric Najdek will be at first base. Junior Jesse Wantland will also see action there.

Junior Hikaru Mizuno will be at second base, junior Tucker Campbell will play at shortstop and junior Brody Parsons will be at third base.

Senior three-sport standout Spencer Smith will anchor the Tigard outfield. He was a second-team all-league pick last year.

Also playing in the outfield for the Tigers will be senior Eric Sieg, senior Kyler Garcia and senior Drew Morris.

'I feel positive about our outfield on both offense and defense,' Campbell said.

On the mound, Tigard has one proven returnee in Najdek, who was an honorable mention all-league pick last year as a pitcher.

'He's our one experienced kid there,' Campbell said. 'We're going to rely on him.'

Smith and Nix look to be possible other key pitchers for the Tigers, although Campbell said he prefers to keep Nix at catcher.

Other players who could also possibly be members of the Tigard pitching staff include junior Chris Mackenzie, junior Kyler Heaston, junior Erik Lien, sophomore left-hander Ryan Bickel, sophomore Rob Chabreck and sophomore Patrick Finn.

Tigard will be looking to battle its way up the standings in the new-look Pacific Conference. Century, Glencoe and Hillsboro are new to the conference, while Canby is now a member of the Three Rivers League.

'It will be interesting,' Campbell said.

As for the league this year, Campbell sees Tualatin, Forest Grove and McMinnville as the favorites.

'All three are deep in pitching,' he said. 'I don't know a whole lot about the other schools. We're hoping to be someplace in the middle.'

Tigard, which is off to a 4-0 to the season, was scheduled to face Century in a league-opener on Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to rain. The teams were slated to play Wednesday at Tigard, results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.

Tigard and Century are slated to continue their three-game series with 5 p.m. games today (Thursday) and Friday at Century High School. On Tuesday, Tigard will be home to open a three-game series with Glencoe.