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GreyWolves ready for first pitch

THE OUTLOOK: PARKER LEE - The GreyWolves are ready to play their first game in franchise history Friday night at Oslund Field. The Gresham GreyWolves are ready to throw out the first pitch in franchise history when they take to Oslund Field at Mt. Hood CC on Friday night to open the 2016 summer baseball season.

The GreyWolves are under the direction of returning head coach Justin Barchus, who managed the squad in Klamath Falls last summer.

“We are looking for scrappy guys, who are motivated to go out and compete,” he said. “Guys can look at the summer as a break time or as a time to work on their game. We want guys who want to get better.”

Klamath Falls finished at the bottom of the West Coast League with a 12-41 record last year. Barchus is hopeful that improved pitching will increase that win total in Gresham.

“We walked too many guys last year and that hurt us — you can’t afford to do that in a woodbat league,” Barchus said. “Pitching and defense become really important. You aren’t going to have guys hitting a bunch of home runs, so you need to stay focused for the full nine innings.”

Returning to the pitching rotation is Andrew Heideman, a junior at Concordia-Wisconsin, who led his team with 44 strikeouts in the spring. Adding to the rotation are a pair of Linfield Wildcats in lefty Carter Buuck and Cason Cunningham, who was 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in the spring.

Mickey Walker earned Freshman of the Year honors in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference after his rookie season at St. Martin’s where he led the team in ERA at 4.56, while surrendering five home runs over 18 appearances.

Defensively the strength of the team appears to be in the outfield, anchored by Mark Cardinalli — a junior at UC Davis, who came up with 41 put outs for the Aggies in the spring and ranked second on the team in batting average at .314.

“We have a lot of guys, who started out the year at Division I schools, so we’re excited about our outfield,” Barchus said.

Gresham opens the season with a two-game set this weekend against Thurston County, which is a member of a collegiate league based out of Puget Sound.

The GreyWolves begin their West Coast League schedule at home Monday against the Cowlitz Black Bears.

Look for our expanded season preview in our May 31, print edition.

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