Bowmen hope for another special season

Baseball: Sherwood, after reaching the Class 3A title tilt, eyes success at the 5A level
by: DAN BROOD, SWEET SWING — Sherwood senior catcher Alex Wert, back for his fourth season on the varsity, is one of the key returnees for the Bowmen this season.

SHERWOOD - Last year sure was special for the Sherwood High School baseball team.

The Bowmen battled all the way to the 2006 Class 3A state championship game.

Now, a year later, Sherwood is playing in the new Class 5A classification and is a member of the new Northwest Oregon Conference. But the Bowmen could be in for another special season.

'Like all the other sports, we're excited to move into the new league,' Sherwood coach Jon Strohamaier said. 'It's going to be a competitive league from top to bottom. We're excited about that. We've got a lot of returnees and our whole pitching staff is back. Hopefully, we'll pick up where we left off last year.'

Last year, behind its strong pitching staff, Sherwood put together an overall record of 25-7 on its way to playing in the state title game, where the Bowmen fell in extra innings to Astoria.

The returning Bowmen pitchers are led by senior Taylor Hill, a first-team all-Tri-Valley League pick last year, junior Johnny Wade and senior Nate Hickok.

'All three of them throw three pitches for strikes,' Strohmaier said. 'And they've got a good defense behind them.'

Senior Travis Boehm will throw long relief for the Bowmen while senior Derek Kotowski will pitch in short relief.

At catcher, Sherwood will have another returning first-team all-league pick in senior Alex Wert, who is in his fourth season on the Bowmen varsity. Already this season, Wert has thrown out four runners at second base on stolen-base attempts and he's also picked off four other runners.

Junior Travis Setere, the team's top designated hitter, will also play some at catcher.

Junior Jason Erwin takes over at first base for the Bowmen. Hickok will be at second base when he's not pitching. Hill and senior Danny Lybarger will also play there.

Wade returns at shortstop. He was a second-team all-league pick last year. Hill and sophomore Troy Duppenthaler will also play some at shortstop.

Boehm, senior Tyler Renney and Setere will all see action at third base.

Senior Aaron Czyzewski will be in left field. He's off to a strong start to the season, hitting three home runs in the team's first three games. Junior Sam Karpeles, a second-team all-league pick last year, will be in center field.

'Not a lot of hits will fall between them,' Strohmaier said.

Kotowski and Hill will play in right field. Senior Scott Lybarger will also play in the outfield, as well as serving as designated hitter at times. Junior Jesse Wetmore will play in the outfield as well as pitch a bit for the Bowmen.

As for the initial Northwest Oregon Conference season, Strohmaier sees quite a battle ahead for the top spots in the league.

'I think the league champ may end up with four or five losses,' he said. 'Glencoe should be real good. They've got a lot of experience. We've got the rivalry with Wilsonville and St. Helens will be tough. We want to finish in the top four and make the league playoffs, but our goal is to win the league championship. I really like our chances.'

Sherwood is off to a 3-1 start in NWOC play (7-3 overall). The Bowmen were slated to host Glencoe in a league game on Wednesday. Results weren't available when the Times went to press.