League race will be tighter with Astoria down a notch
by: John Brewington BASE RUNNING—Scappoose baseball players try a little base path running during practice last week. Players running here are (from left) Spencer Thorsen, Nolan Lohman, Devin Ray (up front) and Alex Ruiz.

The Scappoose Indians expect to challenge for the league title this season and hope to go far in the 4A state playoffs.

Tribe baseball Coach Robert Medley has a good returning crew this season, and just a few spots to fill in his line-up. The team is deep at pitcher with three all-league picks and an all-league catcher returning.

Those riches and other returning starters make the Indians one of the favorites in the league.

Arch rival Astoria lost a lot of players from last year's 4A state championship team and could be more even with the rest of the Cowapa League. They do return state Player of the Year Conor Harber at pitcher and that alone makes them a tough team.

Astoria has gotten the better of Scappoose every year but in 2010 the Indians met and upset them in the state finals.

The Indians bring back all-league pitcher Eric Raya, a senior, and honorable mention senior Blake Updike, and junior Kody Backus. They have a number of others that will see some time on the mound this season. Raya and Backus will alternate at first base, as well. Updike will go into the outfield when not on the mound.

All-league catcher Nathan Kranyak, a senior, is back to direct the defense, while junior Paul Revis will have to work to defend his second-base position. Nolan Lohman, a senior, will also vie for an infield position.

'Third base and shortstop are going to be positions we'll battle for,' Medley said.

Seniors Josh Ooley, junior Kyle Durvin, and junior Kyle Kramer may join Updike in the outfield or contend for other positions.

Medley said he hasn't settled on how many players will come up from the jayvees last season, and some may swing. Others may come up on the varsity when they are not pitching for the jayvees.

'History has show that we can use the first few games to develop a chemistry and try players at positions,' Medley said.

The team will head to Baker and Ontario for games over spring break.'We'll play five games against quality teams and come home with a clear picture (on where players fit in best),' Medley said. 'It's a great bonding trip. We take 22-24 kids, the parents come along to cook. We go to the (batting) cage whenever we want. It's a good thing.'

Medley is entering his 14th year as coach and sees this team as a strong one.

'I'm excited. I think we'll pitch well and play defense well. We'll swing the bat well once we get our timing down in preseason. We'll be ready to jump into league with two feet on the ground. We should have a good preseason, and have a good chance to get into post season and really make some noise,' the coach said.

He noted that over the last few seasons, Scappoose and Astoria have been the top two teams in the league. It may be a little more wide open this year.

'(Astoria) is down a little bit. They lost players at some positions. They'll play Conor Harber. He throws hard and is a quality pitcher. He threw in the championship game last season. When he's on the hump it's going to be a tough go. The other 2-3 guys are not going to be able to blow the ball by you. They'll come back to everybody else. YC and Banks had a good year, Seaside is back up. The league has a lot more balance. We have the ability to put us on top of the heap,' Medley said.

The coach is also the athletic director this year. His varsity staff is mostly the same guys he's had for a number of years-Joe Girres, Neil Lordos, Matt Bailey, and returning this season Doug Nassimbene.

'I'm very fortunate to have good assistants that know the game well and relate well to the kids. We've had some success the last 7-8-9 years,' he added.

He said he's getting some help with the athletic director position this spring from Vice Principal Jim Jones, and athletic secretary Brenda Lohman.

The Indians were to kick off their season with a home game against La Salle this past Monday, but the game was rained out. They are to be at Central Friday and Gladstone on and #8200;Monday, weather permitting.

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