By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– With how young the South Salem baseball team is, Head Coach Max Price has five key returners going into this Spring as the Saxons look to get their way back into the 6A postseason.
“For the five guys that are returning, they played a ton last year and having them kind of returning to a leadership role with a group that’s very young is really exciting because the guys who are returning are excellent leaders
Braedy Vogt, Cole Weiland, Carter Nelson, Caleb Mitchell and Trevor Rojas are the five returning and are expected to contribute significantly for South as their first game of the season is slated for Monday against Jesuit.
Vogt returns to catch, taking over full-time after splitting time with Danny Alvarado last Spring. Slender built compared to prior catchers in years past with Alavardo, Greyson Hanowell and Aaron Zavala, but is ready to be that anchor behind the dish as those three were.
“Danny was an electric player. Following him and seeing how it goes, seeing his batting through the season really sets an expectation for me to uphold,” Vogt said. “Communicating and knowing where everyone needs to be, that’s the first step and just having fun with the boys is what it really takes to be a good leader on the field. We got a lot of new guys on the tem, but we’re definitely showing them the ropes and I think we got a lot of hard workers this year…and I think that’s going to contribute towards (success) this year.”
Nelson is expected to be the Saxons Ace, their number one pitcher, and being a sophomore the potential is there for him to be something special as he continues to develop as a pitcher. Price is expecting Rojas to take the reins as South Salem’s number two, three pitcher and eat up several innings himself in the pitching rotation.
“(Last year) was good for me. I had Ricky (Alvarado), Danny and a bunch of good seniors around me. They were nice people, accepted me and helped me show me who I am as a pitcher,” Nelson said. “(This year) will be great. We got a bunch of people, a teamful of really great people. It’s awesome.”
Price has been asked about how good this team will be this year. What can they expect from his squad as they embark on another Spring season at Gilmore Park.
“The typical answer we keep giving to people is that we’re thinking the second half of the season we’re going to be absolutely legit. But it’s really how quickly can we slot into that?” Price starts with a smile. “We got a bunch of guys that are really talented that haven’t played much High School baseball because of Covid and no Varsity baseball, so that’s kind of the big question. How quickly can we get to the level that we think we can be?”
Though their game Monday is technically a ‘home’ game as it’s being played at Willamette University, South Salem’s first home game at Gilmore Field will be Saturday when they host South Medford for a doubleheader before heading up to Mountainside for the Mountainside Spring Break Tournament that starts on Monday, March 21.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald