BASEBALL: The Valley Catholic baseball teams enjoys its new success, looks for more
by: MILES VANCE, HURLER – Valley Catholic senior pitcher Matt Twenge and his teammates are hoping for a solid 2007 season.

BEAVERTON - It's a brave new world for the Valley Catholic baseball team in 2007.

The Valiants enter the spring season with a new coach, a new classification, a new league and hopes of new success.

'If our pitching staff can have a successful year, I would like to think that we could earn a playoff berth,' said Valley Catholic coach John Perrigo, 25, also the school's strength and conditioning coach, head football coach, JV boys basketball coach, Outdoor Adventure Club co-leader and CYO Basketball coach. 'But we are really going to have to earn it playing against the likes of Westside Christian and Willamina.'

But there is reason for hope this year at Valley Catholic, which, at 10-0 through Tuesday's games, already has more wins than it got all last season.

The team is led by senior center fielder Ben Johnson (a first team All Tri-Valley League pick in '06), senior pitcher Matt Twenge (an honorable mention pick in '06), senior shortstop Michael Hoffman (honorable mention) and senior second baseman Trevor Gates (honorable mention).

'Having Trevor Gates at second base and Michael Hoffman at shortstop makes it very difficult for teams to get any hits up the middle. They have great synergy,' said Perrigo, a former college football player at Northern Arizona. And 'Ben Johnson has great speed in the outfield. I sometimes believe he could cover foul pole to foul pole.'

Twenge, a right-hander, leads what should be an improved VC pitching staff this year, joined by junior righty Patrick Dempsey and Hoffman.

Twenge 'has a great fastball and a good toolbox of pitches to mix it up,' Perrigo said, adding that 'Dempsey has really impressed the coaching staff so far this spring. He has a lot of pitches that he can throw with great accuracy.'

Around the rest of the lineup, Valley Catholic will call on senior Max Casquiero at catcher, junior Matt Russo at first base, freshmen Austin Rose and Taylor Buuck at third, Dempsey in left field, freshman Spencer Gates and sophomore Jeremy Peters in right, senior Tim Gredvig at designated hitter.

Twenge will also see time in the field when he's not pitching, along with sophomore outfielders Sean Bero and Max Brady, senior first baseman Scott Kelly and freshmen catchers R.J. Peterson and Connor Walsh.

'Our team should compete in the West Valley League,' Perrigo said. 'Being in a new league it is tough to say who will be good, but just from looking at all of the basketball teams, there are a lot of great athletes in our league who also play baseball.'

In upcoming games, Valley Catholic hosts Sheridan at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday), and hosts Westside Christian at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Both are West Valley League games.

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