By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Cole Hamilton found himself in a familiar, yet different role two-and-a-half months removed from Tommy John surgery Thursday afternoon.
He was known as a leader for North Salem during his time playing for Chris Lee, but now the 20-year-old who’s healing up after suffering the injury throwing during a drill over the winter, is now finding himself as a coach for the Withnell Dodgers entering his redshirt season at Oregon State University this Fall.
“It’s definitely different, especially going from a player this year. I’m still a player, I’m at Oregon State next year, its just different of the aspects of what I have learned from getting coached, now I have to coach it,” said Hamilton. “Put it on paper and be able to look at guys and analysis guys and break down their throwing mechanics, footwork mechanics. It’s just different from the coaching aspect rather than the playing aspect.”
Hamilton wanted to stay involved with the game as the 12-18 month healing process happens as he worked with the catchers Thursday afternoon. The second half of practice the 2016-Viking Graduate was working with South Salem’s Greyson Hanowell with his footwork popping up for a throw-out at second- and third-base from behind the dish with their first game Saturday at Willamette University.
Around the future Beaver Catcher coaching wise was some names he heard of, even played with in former teammate Noah Boatwright and former Viks Justin and Jamie Hoffman. Pitching Guru in Mike Godfrey, who’s been at North helping the Vikings pitching staff, is back helping the pitchers with the Dodgers this summer.
“I think it preaches more of the program that Coach Lee instilled at North Salem and how the love of the game is there. How he preached fun. It’s a game, have fun,” Hamilton said of the NS-connection.
The team itself, the 2019 rendition of the Dodgers has the look to make a deep run at it. With the Mid-Valley Southpaws serving a two-year ban for using an ineligible player in the State Championship Game this past summer; the Dodgers, Post 20 Dirtbags and the Corvallis Minutemen will have a crack at the title. The Keizer Crushers and the Newport Dungies behind them, will also look to make a run at it this season as well.
Some familiar faces like Noah Ferguson (South Salem), Cameron Kallhoff (North Salem), Will Delorretto (Sprague), Kaiden Doten (South Salem) Michael Soper (Sprague), and Rylan Webster (Western Christian) to name a few return this season. Brock McMullen (Sprague), who played here-and-there last summer also returns to add depth at catcher.
Some new faces however, will put the Dodgers in the front of the pack for league if not challenge Medford’s five-year State Championship Winning Streak.
Names like Sean Alvarado (South), Greyson Hanowell (South) and Ryan Brown (South), Brett Hassoun (Sprague) were on hand as the season kicked off this week.
“We have some good potential, especially with how we played last year. We definitely didn’t play as well as we liked and we still ended up going to deep in playoffs,” said Ferguson. “So with what we have this year, I think we have a really good chance of doing good things, especially if we play up to our potential.”
The first game of the year, a nine-inning game, will be Saturday against Vancouver with the first pitch at 3pm at Willamette University.