By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was 2014 when McKay Baseball last had a playoff game when they lost to Century in a close play-in game 6-5, and ever since then they’ve been re-tooling for another opportunity to crack into that postseason again.
A senior heavy and returnee-heavy team that features Jovi Davis, Ryan Bangs, Jesse Aguliar, Luis Castro, Alex Tavera, Abraham Martinez, Austin Brown and BJ Fitzgerald to name a few who are returning from years-past teams has helped bring some experience to the Varsity line-up in 2018.
“I think we can take advantage of that by having experienced guys that have been in live situations in games and know what’s going on,” said Bangs on the experience that they have as they walked out to the turf field to throw the ball a bit towards the end of practice.
And the familiarity of each other has McKay feeling confident as they enter their first-game of the season Tuesday at Lebanon while it serves as a learning experience
“We’re pretty old so we’re used to how the bats go, who’s pitching on the mound and who needs to be where in situations,” starts Davis. “It’s teaching the younger guys how the game goes mentality and physicality throughout the season on when how to have a good time and when to be serious. When the game’s on the line how to be serious and when to cash in and when not to.”
Since that 2014 season, the Scots went from 3-20 when this core group of seniors were freshman, to 4-20 as sophomores to 6-16 as juniors and saw steady improvement now creates the question becomes now of how to turn that experience and battle-readiness into more wins in the win-column this year and possibly a return to the postseason?
And with some turnover in the Greater Valley Conference this season with some new faces and the development of other returning varsity players from last year to this year that has taken away some of the idea of ‘underdogs’ as the season enters it’s final week of pre-season training.
“We can take advantage of that by knowing that there’s not very many underdogs,” said Bangs. “It’ll be an advantage going in games not knowing what the team’s going to be like because in past years we’ve known what to expect from guys, but that’s not the case with guys this year.
“There’s going to be a few guys that we know what to expect from, everyone’s solid.”
With the seniors before them leaving a lesson that they are taking into this season and hoping to leave their mark when it’s all said and done like the seniors before them, it’s almost time to ball as the season kicks off Tuesday at Lebanon at 4:30pm with the first home game on April 4 versus Sprague at 5pm.
But, for one of those seniors from last season in Shane Tennis, he traded his glove in for a whistle after 13 years of playing the sport as he’s coach McKay’s JV team as a assistant and helps out with the catchers on the varsity team as well.
“It’s really cool to be back out here you know, not being able to play baseball you got to do something that you love. Being close to baseball coaching is probably the best choice I’ve made,” said Tennis. “Helping the kids I played with is awesome.”