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Bowmen putting it together again

Baseball: Sherwood, which won the NWOC title last year, looks strong in 2008
by: DAN BROOD, SLUGGING SAM — Sherwood senior Sam Karpeles (9), shown here after hitting a home run at Liberty last year, is one of the top returnees for the Bowmen.

SHERWOOD - Many of the components changed, but the pieces have fallen into place pretty quickly for the 2008 Sherwood baseball team.

Though they graduated nine seniors off last year's Northwest Oregon Conference championship team, the Bowmen have found a way to keep on winning, stringing together seven straight wins after dropping their 2008 season opener.

'We did lose a lot of kids, but obviously the wells not dry,' Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. 'We're pretty excited about where we are. We're about a month ahead of where we wanted to be.'

And with little time to prepare for the league season - which the Bowmen began with a three-game sweep of Wilsonville in mid-March - the strong start has been a boost for a team with several new starters.

Sherwood does return four seniors that played major roles in last year's success. Combined with a supporting cast that has been a pleasant surprise, the Bowmen haven't missed a beat behind seniors Johnny Wade, Jason Erwin, Sam Karpeles and Travis Setere.

Wade is the team's No. 1 pitcher and shortstop when not on the mound. An all-league honorable mention last year, he also leads off in a lineup that follows with Karpeles, Erwin and Setere in order.

Paced by Wade and No. 2 Troy Duppenthaler, the shortstop when Wade is pitching and vice versa, Strohmaier likes how his staff has come together.

'Our No. 1 and 2 will give us opportunities to be in games,' Strohmaier said. 'They're throwing strikes and we're playing pretty good defense behind them. More surprising has been how the rest of the guys have thrown.'

Sophomore Nick Erwin is the No. 3 pitcher, while senior Charles Baugh and sophomore Colton Donovan have emerged in relief roles. Baugh has two of Sherwood's wins, getting one with the final four innings of relief in a 7-5 victory over Wilsonville. A day earlier, Donovan pitched 2 2/3 relief innings and drove in three runs in a 7-5 win over the Wildcats and returned in Game 3 for 2 1/3 innings of relief to pick up the win in a 5-2 victory.

The Bowmen turned Jason Erwin into a closer last summer and he saved the first and third games of the Wilsonville sweep.

'Anytime you beat Wilsonville it's a good thing if you're from Sherwood,' Strohmaier said. 'We played some pretty good baseball. Hopefully we can build on that.'

The Bowmen have gotten contributions throughout its lineup. Centerfielder Karpeles, an all-league honorable mention last year, and catcher Setere, a second team all-league designated hitter in 2007, each hit home runs against Wilsonville. First baseman Jason Erwin, who was second team all-league last year, gives Sherwood another big bat at the top of the order.

Junior second baseman Zach Spencer, who hit a home run against Wilsonville, and junior third baseman Taylor Gray round out the Bowmen infield.

Sophomore Sean Campbell is the team's left fielder and 'a great ball player' that will replace Karpeles in center next year, according to Strohmaier. Junior Brennan Hickok is Sherwood's right fielder.

Donovan will also see time at DH and third base. Strohmaier expects bench contributions this season with senior Ben Galloway and junior Jon Hogen seeing time at DH and first base. Junior Blair Goldstein will pinch hit and also pitches, while sophomore infielder Tanner Gray will split time on the varsity and jayvee teams.

The Bowmen are coming off a successful trip to Florida to play in the Disney Spring Training Tournament where they went 3-0.

'It was a great experience for the kids,' Strohmaier said. 'A lot of team bonding. We found out some stuff on that trip.'

The Bowmen returned and continued to win, beating Liberty 12-6 on Tuesday to improve to 4-0 in league play. Strohmaier isn't as concerned with Sherwood's playoff seed as he is simply getting to the playoffs. The Bowmen went to the 2006 state championship game as a No. 4 seed then lost in the second round to eventual runner-up Churchill as the No. 1 seed in 2007.

'Our goal is to be in the top-4 and get back to the state playoffs,' Strohmaier said. 'We're going to try to push four teams below us and go from there.'

Strohmaier expects Glencoe and St. Helens to be the league teams to beat. Both made the playoffs last year and lost just one player. The Bowmen intend to compete as long as they keep with their approach.

'We pride ourselves on doing the little things,' Strohmaier said. 'The kids have bought into that philosophy and it's been working for us. I'm satisfied where we are, but we still have a ways to go.'