Like most Colville High School athletic teams, the move up from the Northeast A League to the rigors of the 2A Great Northern League likely didnâ€™t do the Indiansâ€™ baseball team any favors this spring.
But you control what you can control. And the vagaries of student enrollment counts arenâ€™t among things in the control of a coach.
You play who has been scheduled.
â€śItâ€™s a new challenge,â€ť CHS head coach Boo Morrison said of the move to 2A. â€śItâ€™s a tough league.â€ť
Colville finished with a flourish last spring, advancing to the 1A Elite 8 field before being eliminated 4-0 by Naches. Colville finished the 2012 campaign 14-10.
The Indians were a mix of freshmen, sophomores and a few key seniors last season. CHS returns six starters off that Cinderella team from last spring.
The Indians return a solid pitching rotation with junior right-hander Ryan Hartinger and the twins, right-hander Lukyn and left-hander Tevyn Hollilng. Both are juniors.
Lukyn Holling will likely play third base when he isnâ€™t burning innings on the mound. Tevyn will start in the outfield.
Hartinger, who dominated on the CHS junior varsity for most of last season before becoming varsity eligible around post-season time, is the teamâ€™s top starter, according to Morrison.
â€śHe was good for us last season and heâ€™s better now,â€ť Morrison said of Hartinger, a Kettle Falls transfer. â€śHe looks goodâ€¦heâ€™s been throwing since December.â€ť
A part-time starter last season, junior Austyn Peterson will get the nod at shortstop this spring.
â€śHeâ€™s improved and Austynâ€™s hitting has definitely improved,â€ť Morrison said.
Junior Chris Boggs will play first base and like last season, see some varsity innings on the mound. Boggs, who has lost around 40 pounds, according to Morrison, will likely be slotted in the middle of the line-up on offense.
â€śChris looks good,â€ť Morrison said. â€śHe got in the gymâ€¦heâ€™s faster and has more powerâ€”much improved.â€ť
CHS lost the NEAâ€™s top catcher last season in JR Henry. The 6-6 Henry is currently in the starting line-up for the Spokane Falls Community College baseball team.
Last yearâ€™s back-up behind the plate, junior Jesse Morrison, will step in and start at catcher. The versatile Morrison started in the outfield as a freshman and played second base last season. Morrison will likely lead-off for Colville this spring.
Morrison will have to stay healthy. The Indians donâ€™t really have a backup.
Another key player for Colville will be sophomore outfielder Journy Young. Young made a big splash last spring, starting every game for the Indians. Young is a â€śfree swinger,â€ť according to his coach, and one of the two fastest players on the roster.
â€śHe had a great freshman season for us,â€ť Morrison said. â€śWeâ€™re looking for more of that this spring.â€ť
Auditioning at second base are Josh Harvey (freshman), Eli Butts (freshman) and Tyler Ward (sophomore).
Sophomore Colton Vining and fellow sophomore Jacob Morris will see plenty of time in the outfield. Ditto for senior Austin Guthrie.
The teamâ€™s fastest player, Robbie Buxton, is a sophomore who is also auditioning for a spot in the outfield.
Big senior right-handed pitcher Austin Hegney â€śhas all the tools,â€ť according to Morrison, to be a reliable second man in the rotation this spring.
A wild card who could help Indians on the mound
Hegney has suffered from spates of wildness in the past. Morrison hopes Hegneyâ€™s senior campaign will mean more success on the hill.
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â€śHe can be a big contributor for us,â€ť Morrison said. â€śIf he can find some consistency, Austin will probably be our number two pitcher.â€ť
Sophomore Ben Knight could also see some time on the mound.
Even more than last season, thereâ€™s something of a youth movement afoot in the CHS baseball camp. With only two seniors on the varsity roster, the future looks bright.
â€śItâ€™s a very solid group,â€ť Morrison said. â€śWe are very solid in the junior class and weâ€™ve got some talented freshmen and sophomores. There is a lot of competitionâ€¦some of the younger junior varsity kids will be pushing the varsity. There isnâ€™t a wide disparity in the talent levels.â€ť
Weather permitting, Colville will open the season at home on March 19 against GNL pre-season favorite, East Valley. The Knights feature a Gonzaga University pitching recruit who was the cream of the GNL pitching crop last spring and has a fastball in the low 90â€™s.
â€śWe havenâ€™t seen anybody who throws that hard,â€ť Morrison admitted. â€śAnd theyâ€™ve got another 90 mph guy in their rotation.â€ť
And Clarkston, with better weather than anybody else in the league, is annually a strong program. That should be the case again this spring. Morrison figures that Cheney and West Valley should also field solid teams.
Morrisonâ€™s staff includes varsity assistant coaches Erik Johansen and Moose Zema. New junior varsity coach is former Kettle Falls High baseball coach Jeff Graves. Assisting Graves will be Jim Lindquist and former CHS player Cody Boggs.