Braves' seven seniors leading by example for younger players

Banks baseball coach Brian Ackerman enters his third season with a lot of new faces on the varsity roster, but his seven seniors have already taken it upon themselves to teach the youngsters the ropes.

“These seniors are really good leaders, so they’re going to be good for the young kids,” said Ackerman, whose squad features three sophomores and a number of freshmen.

“A lot of kids talk the talk, but these guys walk the walk. They back it up on the field and they lead by example.”

Chief among the returning seniors are Joey Bonin, Mykah Rosa and Shane Spiering, who are all three-year varsity contributors, dating back to Ackerman’s first season on the job.

“At our very first practice, I did some talking at the beginning but Joey and Mykah pretty much took over the drills. They were running everything,” Ackerman said. “First of all, it’s good that they remember that stuff, but what’s more important is that they really understand what I’m trying to teach.”

Ackerman attributes that to his insistence that players not just do what they are asked during practices, but to question why things are done certain ways. It’s a lesson he lifted from former Oregon football coach Chip Kelly.

“I listened to a Chip Kelly interview a while back and he always encouraged his players to ask why,” Ackerman said. “When we ask you to do something, don’t just shake your head and do it — ask us why. Because we’re doing it that way for a reason.”

Bonin, Rosa and Spiering will all be asked to pitch this season while also anchoring three of the infield spots and the middle of the Banks lineup.

Bonin, the Braves’ starting third baseman and possible cleanup hitter, has been particularly invaluable as a leader so far this season.

“He’s really taken the reins of the program,” Ackerman said. “He has a lot of experience and he’s really taken these younger kids under his wing.”

Rosa will bat leadoff and play either shortstop or second base when he’s not pitching, and Spiering will start at first while also seeing some mound time.

Banks’ other seniors include outfielders Keaton DeLonge, Sam Herb and Colton Perdew, plus infielder Connor Kuhl.

The Braves have no juniors on this year’s roster, but three sophomores return with varsity experience. David Schorn will see a lot of time on the mound while also playing some second base, Donny McClean will primarily be used as an outfielder or possibly at first base when Spiering pitches, and Logan St. Marie is the likely starter in left field.

In addition, freshman Casey Magoo will start behind the plate, and Ackerman sees big things for the youngster.

“He’s good now, but he’s going to be really good,” Ackerman said of Magoo. “Even though he’s a freshman, I think he’s going to have a lot of success at the varsity level. He knows the game extremely well for a freshman and I think he’s ready to handle it.”

Other freshmen who could see varsity playing time are Jake Evans (outfield), Kylann Thomas (second base) and Trevor Thiessen (pitcher/first base/outfield).

The Braves will be without the services of departed senior Graysen Partain, a three-time Class 4A all-state selection, but Ackerman likes the overall balance of this year’s team better.

“Last year we did have that star player with Graysen, and I think a lot of times we would get behind and then it was like everyone was waiting for him to do something,” Ackerman said. “This year it’s going to have to be a total team effort. Everybody in the lineup, one through nine, will be vital to our success, and they’re already buying into that concept.

“This is a really good group of kids. Talent-wise, I think we’ll be fine.”

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