The defending Class 5A state champs look to have another strong season

by: DAN BROOD - BACK FOR MOORE -- Senior Riley Moore, shown here pitching in a 2013 state playoff game, returns for the defending state champions.SHERWOOD — Rebuilding year?


No way.

There’s no such thing when you’re the tradition-rich Sherwood High School baseball program.

Despite the fact that the Bowmen graduated 12 seniors from last year’s state championship team, Sherwood is carried its usual share of high hopes going into the 2014 season.

“I’d say we’re reloading, not rebuilding,” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. “In the last three years, we’ve pretty much turned over the whole roster. This year, we have 15 seniors, but not very many of them have varsity experience.”

But that doesn’t mean that the Bowmen don’t have any key returnees from last year’s squad that won the Northwest Oregon Conference championship with a 15-2 mark while finishing the season with an overall record of 25-6.

In fact, Sherwood returns one of the state’s top pitchers in senior right-hander Riley Moore. Last year, Moore earned first-team all-NWOC and first-team Class 5A all-state honors. He also was the winning pitcher in the Bowmen’s 11-4 win over Bend in the 2013 Class 5A state championship game.

“He’s going to be our No. 1 pitcher,” Strohmaier said.

Sherwood has another key returnee in junior Zak Taylor. As a freshman, Taylor earned all-league honors as a first baseman. Last year, as a sophomore, he was a first-team all-NWOC pick at shortstop.

This season, he’ll mainly be playing at catcher for the Bowmen, in addition to holding down the No. 3 spot in the batting order.

“We’re fortunate enough to have a player that we can put anywhere,” Strohmaier said.

In addition to catching, Taylor will also be Sherwood’s No. 3 starting pitcher and he may also see some action at shortstop.

When Taylor isn’t catching, junior Adley Rutschman will be behind the plate for the Bowmen.

“We think we have two of the best catchers in the league,” Strohmaier said.

Senior Lucas Johnson will be Sherwood’s No. 2 pitcher. Senior Brandon Geiger will be a spot starter and could serve in a relief role.

“He’s got a great demeanor,” Strohmaier said. “We trust him to throw strikes.’

Senior Tyler Booth will be the team’s closer.

by: DAN BROOD - TAYLOR MADE -- Sherwood junior Zak Taylor, shown here in a game played last year, should be a key player for the Bowmen when it comes to catching, pitching and offense this season. Senior left-hander Andrew Kringlen, senior Nate Christler, senior Spencer Clay and Rutschman could also see time on the mound.

“We’ve got a deep pitching staff,” Strohmaier said. “A lot of kids can contribute.”

In the infield, Sherwood will have senior Travis Kotowski at first base. He’ll also bat in the clean-up spot. Kotowski is coming off a strong Arizona spring break trip, where he hit for a better than .500 average while earning all-tournament accolades.

Junior Cameron DuFault and Johnson could also see action at first base.

Moore, when he’s not pitching, will likely be playing at second base. Clay will be at shortstop most of the time. Junior Dayton Vaughn will play at third base. He also could see action at second, as could senior Beau Curtiss. Rutschman could also play at third base.

Senior Keegan Lawrence will anchor the Sherwood defense in center field.

“He’s got the speed and ability to run down balls all over the place,” Strohmaier said.

Senior Scott Skurdahl will be in left field.

The right field spot is open for now, with Christler, senior Kenny Ballard, junior Ryan Pino and senior Tanner Shadbolt vying for playing time.

“They all bring something different,” Strohmaier said.

It all adds up to what Sherwood hopes is another successful season.

“We’re not going to go away from what we do — we’re a small-ball team,” Strohmaier said. “We have a solid, all-around club. We just need to refine some things.”

As for the NWOC this season, the Bowmen are hoping for some big things before them move up to the Class 6A level next year.

“I’d be lying if I said that we didn’t expect to win it,” Strohmaier said. “Wilsonville will be OK, Putnam will be pretty good and Liberty could be pretty good. Our first goal is to win league. Our No. 2 goal is to get in the playoffs and see what we can do there.”

And, as the Bowmen found out last year, in the postseason, anything can happen.

“I think it will be the same as last year,” Strohmaier said of the state outlook. “By the time May rolls around, there will be between 10 and 12 teams that will have a chance to win it all, and I hope we’re one of those teams.”

Sherwood finished its spring break trip to Arizona with an overall record of 2-4. On Tuesday, the Bowmen were edged 5-3 at Canby to move to 2-5 on the early season.

On Wednesday, Sherwood was slated to host Wilson in a non-league game. Results of that contest weren’t available when The Times went to press.

The Bowmen will be back in action Friday when they host West Salem in a non-league game starting at 4:30 p.m. Sherwood will open its NWOC schedule Tuesday when it hosts Rex Putnam at 4:30 p.m. The teams will play against Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at Alder Creek Middle School.

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