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Baseball team looks to make return to playoffs

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy pitchers work out on the teams new artificial fields.

The Sandy baseball team had several major contributors graduate last season, but the Pioneers aren’t worried. Rebuilding isn’t necessary, because they feel like they have simply reloaded.

“We will be very comparable to last year,” Sandy coach Garet Luebbert said. “We have seven seniors, all solid kids. We had a really good team last year, and it’s more of the same.”

Patience will be the order of the day for the Pioneers and the senior class. They have their fair share of talent, but it is going to take a little while for that talent to manifest itself.

A few of the key assets on the squad were huge factors on the basketball team as well. Because the Pioneers advanced to the state basketball quarterfinals, guys like Justin Adams, Blake Robison and Scooter Turin had no time to ease back into baseball.

“They are big-time baseball guys and they love the game,” Luebbert said. “Once they get a few practices under their belts, they will be caught up to everyone else, and they will be better for having had the experience.”

Adams and Robison help make up a Sandy pitching staff that is going to be tough when it starts hitting on all cylinders. Adams was the Northwest Oregon Conference basketball player of the year, and he might be end up being just as good on the diamond. Sandy coach Garet Luebbert said Adams and Robison are natural athletes who can provide valuable innings for the Pioneers.

Sandy did lose a few big arms from last season’s rotation, but a bulk of its staff was made up of younger players. With those guys now older and more experienced, the Pioneers will have a deeper pitching staff than they did a year ago.

“We have a diverse group on the mound. Every guy we have has had at least some success at the high school level, and that is exciting,” Luebbert said. “The only thing we’re missing is a lefty.”

At the plate, Sandy is also stronger from top to bottom. The Pioneers have a lineup full of hitters who can put the ball in play or lay down a bunt at any point in a ballgame.

“We are confident that our guys can hit the ball around the yard,” Luebbert said. “With that said, every guy we have will be comfortable playing small ball. We will rely on small ball as a plan in some games, and some guys will do it every game.”

The Pioneers might have to take a few losses early on while working through some offseason rust, but the wins will start rolling in as soon as they can peak on the mound and in the batters’ box. If that happens quickly, a trip back to the playoffs could be on the horizon.

Sandy opened the season with losses to Sprague and The Dalles.