By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– It was a rare mid-March day in which the sun was out, the field was dry and temperature was just right to knock off the rust of practicing in the gym throughout the Winter.
The South Salem baseball team held an intra-squad scrimmage Thursday afternoon at Gilmore City Park, pinning Varsity guys against the Junior Varsity with the season hopefully starting on the other end of the upcoming weekend.
Saxon Head Coach Max Price and his coaches talked about mindset in their roundtable following the Varsity’s 4-3 victory, Greyson Hanowell scoring the game-winner off a pass-ball, with the message that regardless if its Coronavirus, Mother Nature or sun that they need to be ready to go.
“Our team…I’ve been telling everybody this year, our team has a lot of talent. A lot of untapped talent,” starts Hanowell. “The only thing we’re missing is experienced.
“My job has been to get all of these young guys into the right mentality so that we can come in and instead of playing baseball, we can come out and repeat.”
There was some of that inexperienced as well in Thursday’s scrimmage. Reading the ball too late, not having a plan before the pitch, etc. The things that will come with the rust and more live reps on the baseball diamond.
It’s a matter of trusting the process said Price that has helped them to three-straight playoff appearances since Price’s arrival to South Salem four years ago.
“I think the guys are buying in to trusting the process and kind of competing every, single day. Every, single minute in every single, rep they have,” said Price. “If we’re present for all of those reps, then hopefully at the end of the year we can look up and things went really well with however people define that.
“We’ve set the bar pretty high the last couple of years and I don’t think it’s fair to judge ourselves against that. It’s just a measurement of every single day’s process and are we hitting the daily expectations that we set for ourselves.”
Reaching the 6A State Semi-Finals for a third year-in-a-row will be a tough task to achieve for South Salem this year after graduating some heavy hitters.
Losing the bulk of their pitching and line with graduations to Elijah Enomoto-Haole, Ryan Brown, Noah Ferguson, Sean Alvarado, Brayden Neuharth and Kaiden Doten will be question marks on how the Saxons respond this Spring.
But they have some familiar faces returning that got valuable Varsity experience.
Tyler Minney and Ricky Alvarado on the bump. Danny Alvarado and Hanowell splitting time behind the dish and infield along with Gabe Matthews and Conner Robustelli looking to help South to compete for the lead pack in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“I think the returners are going to be huge for us. I know we have a lot of guys that want to come out here and want to be good and want to win, so I think that’s going to be the biggest part,” said Alvarado. “I know none of the returners really want to lose…no one wants to lose but I think the returning guys step up in a huge role and I think we’re going to be pretty good this year.”
The Saxons are scheduled to go out to Silverton Monday for the jamboree out at the sports complex at Silverton High School before having their first game at Newberg Thursday and a doubleheader in South Medford Saturday, but with coronavirus fears in recent days that could change things up as the contest draw nearer.
Photos by Jeremy McDonald