RHP Ian Isackson (right) won the first game of the 2024 season for Eagle Point. He poses here with ass't coach Spencer Duggan
RHP Ian Isackson (right) won the first game of the 2024 season for Eagle Point. He poses here with ass't coach Spencer Duggan

At least every other week during the spring season, we’ll talk some Oregon high school baseball. This is the place!

Where Eagles dare!

Monday was the first official contest date of the 2024 baseball season. It was cold across the state and, in many places, wet, but Eagle Point and Phoenix braved the cold and avoided the rain to complete the first game of the season, a 10-2 Eagle Point road win. Junior Ian Isackson struck out 10 to get the win, sophomore Braden Nugent had two hits, including one of three Eagle triples and Sean McFall contributed a triple and two RBIs.

We are off!

Coaches polls…A closer look

On Monday, the pre-season coaches poll were released on OSAA Live, the OSAA app. They will first appear there every other Monday then show up on OSAAtoday one day later. West Linn, Thurston, Scappoose, Banks and Umpqua Valley Christian are the coaches picks to win the five classifications. All but UVC won state titles last year. Umpqua Valley Christian lost in the 2A/1A semifinals to state runner up Blanchet Catholic.

Let’s take a closer look at teams in the pre-season polls, provided the coaches were able to complete our pre-season outlook form.


No. 1 West Linn has won back-to-back titles. No Oregon large school has EVER won three in a row. The Lions started their quest yesterday with a 4-3 road win over No. 4 Sherwood. Winning again could prove a challenge for Joe Monahan’s team, as graduation took four position players and two starting pitchers, including the state championship MVP, Drake Gabel; and fire balling Drew Talavs, who has seen mound time for Oregon State as a true freshman. Three First Team All-State performers return for West Linn: C Ryan VandenBrink, a slugger and Oregon State signee; athletic RHP/CF Gabe Howard, an Oregon pledge; and versatile INF/OF Danny Wideman, a junior speedster. Baron Naone, a big time football prospect; starting SS Mitch Rowe and senior position player Ethan Simshauser also return. Junior lefty Blake Crawford, a much-improved Oregon commit, gives the Lions another formidable mound presence as part of a deep staff that includes Devin Martin, Carson Boyer, Roy Espinosa and Cole Hankins.

No. 2 Lake Oswego won 24 games last year and made the state semifinals for the fourth time in head coach Jake Anders’ 26 years at the school. The Lakers go into 2024 trying to replace nine seniors, including four full-time starters: both up-the-middle infielders, a starting pitcher and third baseman. The team also graduated tremendous leadership. LO will contend again because it returns senior P/1B Jonah Barkoff, one of the elite pitchers in the state. OF Vince Williams, C Sam Trojan and INF/P Finley Smith are other key returning players. All were All-League picks last year. Starting senior outfielders Nick Vilarino and Karsten Krebs also return. Lake Oswego has made the state playoffs 24 times in the past 26 years. The expectations are always the same. “We play in an incredible league with incredible talent and coaches,” Anders said. “You have to earn every day.”

No. 3 Jesuit, the state runner up last year, graduated 14 seniors, including first-round pick Noble Meyer, a commanding right-handed pitcher and middle of the order bat; and two of the best position players in the state in 3B Levi Jones and SS Ryan Cooney. Five other position players who started also graduated. Head coach Colin Griffin said the team’s strength should come on the mound, led by senior RHP Mickey McClaskey. OF Kainoa Santiago returns to the outfield. Three seniors, SS Dustin Doherty, C Brody Lyman and OF Preston Miller, should be constants in a lineup that will work hard and compete.

No. 4 Sherwood had a lot of young talent last year. The Bowmen, who were 18-0 in league in 2023, return 13 seniors, including low ERA hurlers Nolan Umlandt and Jaxon Bowen, C Liam Kilever and versatile Nigel Fahland, who will play short this year. Only Nick Gribble graduated, but he was Conference POY. Sherwood will fill that loss with junior transfer Wilson Medina from California, an outfielder with elite speed. Seniors Parker Fabrycki and Aiden Kelly, junior Connor Parry and sophomore Alex Lopez are others to watch for coach Nate Hickok’s team, which should make a deep playoff run with healthy arms.

No. 5 South Salem won a league title last year with two freshmen playing prominent roles. The Saxons graduated two important pieces to their 23-win season, Cole Weiland and Brady Vogt, but were young last year and will be young again in 2024, with just one senior on the squad. Sophomore C Teagan Scott, an Oregon State recruit; and sophomore SS Sawyer Nelson, a Washington commit; will lead the way along with junior CF/RHP Noah Scharer. Three other juniors, infielder Jackson Buckingham, INF/RHP Kevin Semm and OF/RHP Gavin Price, are valuable contributors. Newcomers Logan Scott; a sophomore; and Brady Greer; a junior; also figure prominently. This team will score runs and, most importantly, will score them at home. South Salem did not have use of its field all of last year due to vandalism.

No. 6 Sunset finished second behind Jesuit in the Metro League last year. The Apollos return a terrific core and should score runs with good power hitting. They’ll have strength up the middle with 2B Maddox Montoya and Max Ellerbrook and a true No. 1 on the mound in LHP Kruz Schoolcraft. C Dakota Chun and RHP Will Slater are others to watch, along with newcomers Griffin Jevning, an athletic CF; and sophomore RHP Parker Raubuch, who will be in the rotation. 

No. 7 Mountainside won 22 games last year and have made the 6A quarterfinals the past two years, which is pretty good for a young school. The Mavericks had only three seniors starters a year ago, but all three were significant players: the team’s starting SS, CF and a starting pitcher who also played first. Mountainside returns All-League performers Kellen Wood behind the plate, OF Elym Young, INF Gunnar Gustafson and pitchers Cole Crossley and Lucas Plenart. This will be an experienced team that should yield few runs this season.

No. 8 Lakeridge opened its season yesterday with a 12-2 win over Lincoln. That’s encouraging, because the Pacers graduated power arms Paul Wilson and Eric Hoffberg as well as five position players. Despite the losses, coach Ray Pearson is bullish about a young core, which includes 13 underclassmen. Key players to watch include sophomore Jaden Tragessor, a Second Team All-League pick a year ago who’s now bigger and stronger; junior DH Lukas McElroy, who also will be a key contributor on the mound; and junior INF Wyatt Minto. Jake Kotansky will catch and be an asset, as will a speedy outfield anchored by Porter Bayne. Pearson says his young team is ready to compete and should improve greatly as the players gain varsity experience.

No. 9 Ida B. Wells is the pick to rule the PIL this year as the Guardians return almost their entire roster from last year’s 20-9 team. That includes seniors Griffin Scott (Utah), Quin Dufort (Portland) and Henry Stoainoff, three of the team’s elite pitchers a year ago. Juniors Cam Hammer and Jackson Poole are back to fuel the offense along with Scott and Dufort. Look for seniors Simon Edwards and Justin Weinberg to make an impact after missing 2023 due to injury. 

No. 10 North Medford won 23 games last spring and made it to the 6A semifinal before losing a 4-2 decision to Jesuit. The Black Tornado graduated four from last year’s team, all currently playing college ball; including All-State performers Trey Newmann and Aiden Horsley, but they have experience and athletes at every position according to coach Kerry Curtis. This year’s team will rely on senior SS/RHP Frankie Rutigliano; a Portland signee; three-time All-Conference C Jeremiah Robbins and four other All-Conference honorees: INF/P Colton Morgan, 1B/P Kellen Willer, INF/P Dominic Daffron and OH Easton Curtis. Two good junior athletes, Colton Miller and Cam Nix, are expected to be assets in the outfield.


No. 1 Thurston ended the 2023 season on a 27-game winning streak, including its first state title since 2008. The Colts graduated four starters, including All-State infielder Easton McDonald and two-time 5A POY Maddox Molony; but have eight key players back and a terrific transfer infielder/RHP from North Eugene in Brock Johnson. Key players back for coach Dennis Minium include 5A state Pitcher of the Year Connor Molony, First Team All-State CF Adam Elliott, First Team All-State 3B Eli Crist, who also pitches; and First Team All-State Utility Grady Saunders, a sophomore who will pitch and play infield. The whole pitching staff is back for an experience, confident team that expects to be fighting to repeat its state title.

No. 2 Wilsonville went 21-7 and made the 5A semifinals last year. The Wildcats graduated just two off of their league championship team but return almost all of their impact players, including Luke Haener and Justin Schramm, who were conference Pitchers of the Year in successive seasons. Mark Wiepert, Kheller Larson, Cooper Adams, Berkley Reents, Wade Hagey and Drew Hall are others to watch for Wilsonville, whose strengths should be pitching and defense.

No. 3 Summit won the competitive Inter-Mountain Conference title last year. The Storm graduated 10 seniors, eight of whom were starters on defense, so the offense might lag early in the season. CF Slater de Brun is the only position player back, but he’s a good one and was First Team All-State last year. Summit also returns First Team All-State pitcher Alex Via to anchor a staff that coach Aaron Boehm believes will be a strength of the team. Others to watch include seniors Finn Edwards and Nash Lopez and juniors Nolan Boehm, Carter Hess, Tanner McIntyre and Preston Sexson.

No. 4 West Albany won 23 games a year ago and made the state championship game a year ago. Mid-Valley Conference POY Evan Bliss is among five departed Bulldogs. Junior SS/P Drew Rice returns, as do Adrian Metzker and Kane Damon. A deep, veteran pitching staff will carry the team.

No. 6 Mountain View made the state quarterfinals last year. Since the lost COVID year the Cougars have placed 11 on college rosters. They are 52-21-1 over the past three years, but still looking for their first state title. Mountain View goes into 2024 trying to replace a strong 2023 senior class that included its top two arms and three-year starter at short. OF Caden Illingworth, a First Team All-State player; senior INF Connor Crum, senior OF/C Easton Herberger, senior LHP Gavin Derr and junior Brady Kennedy, an OF/LHP, are key returning players. Watch for freshman Ryder Carpenter to make an impact. He’s a great athlete with a confident demeanor. Coach Ryan Johnson really likes his team and thinks they can go far if they stay healthy. The lineup will battle and the defense will play relatively error free. That’s a winning combination.

Co-No. 7 Crescent Valley was a breakeven team in 2023 one year after winning the state title. The Raiders graduated All-State 2B Walker Still off of last year’s team but brings back an older team with good experience. Among those to watch are hurlers Nick Gimino, Hudson Horn and Luke Schoeffler, all of whom also will play in the field when not throwing; infielder TJ Deen, OF Luey Campos, INF/C Gunner Gillett and 1B/OF Tyler Laam. Sophomore Quinn Sissel will pitch and add power at the plate. Senior OF Jacob Yenchik is a great athlete.

Co-No. 7 Canby appears to be rebuilding on paper, as the Cougars graduated all three starting pitchers and five position players from an 18-9 team last year. Coach JJ Stolsig says his team will be deep despite the losses, led by OF/P Joe Scott, INF/P Quintin Esmay, INF/P Brady Ackerman and infielders Hunter McRobbie and Dallas Mitchel.

No. 9 Ashland won 19 games in 2023 and made the state semifinals before losing by a run to West Albany. Seven Grizzlies, including two who earned All-State recognition, have graduated. Coach Jerrold Rountree is bullish about this team’s chances in 2024, however. Four starters return, three of whom will be key pitchers and top of the lineup hitters. They are Jackson Rosenthal, Freeman Rountree and Keller Bloodworth. OF Mateo Moore will give the team a nice left-handed stick and Noah Shrader will fill a key role behind the plate and in the outfield. Two sophomores, Anthony Albano and Logan Trivette, are among several newcomers who could round out the team and make it formidable in time for a run to the state championship game, a place Ashland has not been for 16 years.

Co-No. 10 Central / King’s Valley Charter made the playoffs last year after an 18-9 regular season. The Panthers graduated three everyday starters, their catcher, shortstop and first baseman, but return a lot of experience and a trio of talented freshmen that have coach Ben Kramer excited to watch his team compete. Veterans to keep an eye on include P/INF Derek Brinton, P/UTIL Isaiah Sanchez and INF/P Owen Baker. Outfielders Lane Peyton and Cody Vinson and INF/OF Moses Garcia also are experienced returning players. Among newcomers, athletic senior Andrew Taufa’asau returns after a couple of years off and will be an asset. Freshmen Joe Mendazona, JT Girod and Sam Alarcon, all of whom pitch and play in the infield, should be foundational pieces this year and into the future.

Co-No. 10 Rex Putnam finished 16-11 last spring. The Kingsmen have a new head coach in Christopher Kamhoot and graduated five, but the best players are back, including senior Jackson Fera, a pitcher and All-State first baseman; Shannon Pando, a senior INF/RHP; and Ian Pollard, a junior SS/RHP. Four newcomers should make an immediate impact: hard-throwing left freshman Andrew Lord, freshman do-everything Joe Salvione, a great athlete; sophomore Nolan Edwards, a great right-handed pitcher; and another strong lefty, junior Calvin Booth, who was a high baseball I.Q. This is a young team, but Kamhoot is excited to get them on the field to see what it can do.


No. 1 Scappoose had a nice blend of senior veterans and young talent in its 27-2 state-championship year. Cam Webb’s team will try to repeat around senior hurler Grayson Grover and junior infielders Joe Fagan, Quinton Olson and Max Nowlin.

No. 2 Pendleton / Nixyaawii has a new head coach, Justin Speer, a co-op partner in Nixyaawii and will play 2024 without nine graduated seniors. “The impact will be felt but in Pendleton we don’t rebuild, we reload,” Speer said. The Buckaroos return impactful pitchers Evan Lenhart, Hayden Dodge and Kasen Hienrichwill and offensive weapons Jace Otteson, Colson Primus and Keegan Kline. The talented newcomers to watch include Art Hill, Gavin Lunny, Tugg McQuinn and Colin Harrington. “We are very balanced and can win baseball games many different ways,” Speer said.

No. 3 Henley won 19 games in the tough Skyline Conference last year. The Hornets graduated two All-Conference players but return seven others who received recognition as they push for a first state title since 2016. First Team All-Conference performers returning include infielders Mark Carpenter and Aiden Hayes as well as DH Conner Shively. Pitcher Beau Pyle, OF Payton Price, 1B Owen Harper and OF Luke Austin also return for a team that will need its pitching to match its bats if it wants to compete at the highest level.

No. 4 North Marion / Gervais is coached by Randy Brack, who taught my son, Tim, how to hit when he was seven. Brack’s been head coach at North Marion for 38 years and his team is riding a five-year league championship streak. The Huskies will have work to do to win league again this year, as four regulars, including three-time All-State OF Rex DeAngelis, have graduated. North Marion, which hasn’t won state in over 50 years, returns its entire starting infield, a starting pitcher and outfielder. Dawson Schrenk, Conference Pitcher of the Year; All-League 1B Isaac Pierce and Second Team All-League SS Cole Hammack are among the key returning players.

Co-No. 5 La Grande made the 4A semifinals last year after romping to a state championship in 2022. The Tigers will try to contend this year having graduated the core of their pitching staff, catcher, corner infielders and one middle infielder among 11 total seniors. “It’s always difficult to replace outgoing seniors, but we expect the next group of players to step in and fill the roles needed,” said veteran coach Parker McKinley. Players to watch include OF Parker McIlmoil, OF Carter Peasley and P/INF Quinten Theiler. Look for Ryder McIlmoil, a sophomore, to replace his graduated brother at the catcher position.

Co-No. 5 Marist Catholic was 21-5 a year ago and champions of the Sky-Em League. Noah Breslaw’s Spartans graduated five, including a couple of big bats. Breslaw says his team will be solid, despite the losses, by relying on senior P/OF Peyton Tyner, P Drew Wooten, INF Niko Leyba, OF Cash Andrus and C Aiden Hazen. Sophomore INF/OF/P Gianni Lombardi is one of several talented newcomers that could make significant contributions this season.

No. 7 Crook County opened its season with a dominating win yesterday. The Cowboys were 16-10 a year ago and made the state quarterfinals. Coach Steele Bailey, in his second year in charge, is hopeful his team will do even better in 2024. The team graduated only two but their catcher was a big team leader and 1B Dustin Wilson was the team’s prime left-handed bat and RBI guy. The players back are more than capable and include Austin Vaughn, Gage Martinez, Tyson Martinez, Tyis Yustat and Hayden Forman. Senior Cody Kurtz, who pitched as a freshman but took two years off, is back and bears watching. Crook County has five players currently slated to play in college. “We have the potential to go all the way,” Bailey said.

No. 8 Newport won 17 games in 2022. The Cubs graduated two, including standout 1B Markus Everitt. Newport has won 36 conference titles and five stats titles in program history and will try to win again this year behind seven returning players, including All-State performers Ethan Bruns and Braxton Blaser.

No. 9 Gladstone won 23 games and made the state semifinals a year ago. The Gladiators graduated seven seniors, including All-State players Brayde Owen and Hayden Smith. Longtime coach Casey Webster said that filling those holes will be a challenge. This year’s team will be young. It started three freshmen and a sophomore in yesterday’s loss to Stayton. “We are hoping to improve game by game,” Webster said. Among players to watch are senior Isiah Conner, who will catch this year and pitch a little after an All-Conference turn last year at 2B. Collin Smith and Sully Marcoe are two others with experience.

No. 10 The Dalles was 18-10 a year ago and ended a playoff drought that extended almost a decade. The Riverhawks graduated three top-end arms and its best bat in Braden Schwartz, but second-year head coach Pat Clark says the offense should still hum behind the likes of returning all-league players Cooper Klindt, Nolan Donovan, Will Booth and Cody Agidus. “We feel we have a group that can compete for a title,” Clark said. “We have 10 returning players with varsity experience and what we believe to be an above average offense.” The success of this club will hinge on The Dalles’ ability to defend behind a deep but not dominating pitching staff.


No.1 Banks will defend its 2023 stats championship behind returning championship game winning pitcher Wyatt Hesselman, catcher Ashton Crossen and power-hitting Justin Walters. The Braves lose 3A POY Logan Kind to graduation.

No. 2 Cascade Christian lost, 3-0, in the 2023 3A final. The Challengers, who won 26 games last year, graduated five substantial performers, including First Team All-State Owen Thompson, C Triston Wallace and 2B Cole Shields. Ashton Moody, the starting QB for the state-champion football team, is a key returning player as an outfielder and left-handed pitcher. Senior Cole Sofflet, the No. 2 pitcher last year behind Thompson; All-League OF Noah Letendre and versatile senior Jack Knips are other impact players for coach Kevin Shafer, who thinks Cascade Christian should compete for another league title in the toughest league in the state. Among newcomers, there are three talented freshmen who will all be all-league type players eventually. C Grady Sickler will make the biggest impact initially. Shafer said he is as good a young player as he has had in the program.

No. 3 Brookings-Harbor was 21-7 last year and one of three from the Far West League to pick the state semifinals. The Bruins graduated three regulars and will need to replace 10 innings per week on the mound to contend again this year. Senior pitcher Austin Dietrich and senior 1B/P Ethan Orman are two mainstays back, along with Spencer Rosenberg, Camron Hendrix, Talon Prior and Cameron Christensen. This is an experienced team that will play tough defense. With a great arm in Dietrich, Keith Wallin’s team is another consistent pitcher away from being in the league mix.

No. 4 South Umpqua is the third from the Far West League to make the semifinals last year. The Lancers won state the year before and could me in the mix again this year with four all-league players back, including junior OF/LHP Drew Camp, junior 2B/RHP Tanner Beckham, senior OF/LHP Louden Cole and senior LHP/1B Elijah Earls. South Umpqua graduated three regulars, but Jace Johnson, the team’s No. 1 pitcher and 3-hole hitter as a shortstop, is by far the biggest loss. Freshman Trace Easterbrook may get the nod at short. He will play somewhere in the middle infield, contribute on the mound and be an impact-type player sooner rather than later.

No. 6 Warrenton, coached by legendary Lennie Wolfe, graduated four regulars in the starting offense, two of whom were the team’s top starting pitchers. While that feels like a lot of rebuilding, Wolfe said that winning 20 games and getting back to the state quarterfinals, like last year, is within reach. The Warriors have several returnees who hit over .300 last year and capable pitchers as well. Juniors Tyson McGrorty, Kaison Smith, Brayden Greenawald and Odin Wilson will be the backbone of this team. All were Second Team or HM All-League last year.

No. 7 Yamhill-Carlton won 20 games for the second straight season and a league title for the third straight time in 2023. The Tigers, under third-year coach Jake McGraw, graduated five, including a leadoff hitter, two heart of the order bats and league Pitcher of the Year Morgan Ortman. While that may be a lot to overcome, Yamhill-Carlton returns five All-League players, including senior catcher Kyle Slater, the Player of the Year and an All-State pick; 2B Kaden Sutton, CF Lucas Long, 1B/RHP Tanner Hurley and RHP/UTIL Sebastian Hacker. All are seniors. Look for juniors Parker Davis and Liam Hynes to be immediate impact newcomers for the Tigers, shoring up the middle infield and behind the plate.

No. 9 La Pine was 19-9 a year ago and a state quarterfinalist. Several standouts graduated and the team has a first-year coach in Ryan Dillon, but the Hawks have depth and experience on the mound and in the infield and should compete behind returning players Deakon Looney, David Taylor, Hunter Heal and Riley Flack, and newcomer Justin Wrightman, a move-in infielder from Indiana.

No. 10 Joseph / Enterprise / Wallowa won 17 games and its first full season league title as a 3A team last year. The Eagles graduated three infielders but return shortstop Jaxon Grover, the league Player of the Year; as well as All-League pitcher Drew Beachy and First Team All-State OF Gabe Nobles. Pitching and defense will be a strength of this senior-led team. “I think if this team stays strong and works together as a team they have the potential to make a run deep in the playoffs,” said coach Zack Grover.


No. 1 Umpqua Valley Christian had an impressive Tuesday debuted, beating 3A No. 4 South Umpqua, 7-1. The Monarchs, who won 27 games last year before falling in the semifinals, were a very young team that graduated just two corner outfielders. An experienced group of impact players returns, including First Team All-State SS/P Daniel Withers and First Team All-State P/UTIL Ty Hellenthal. Others back for coach Dave York include C/P/1B Kevin Shaver, OF Tyler Haynes, 1B/P Tygue Barron and junior INF Logan Anderson. There are eight newcomers, including four freshmen who will all serve in utility roles. It’s no wonder that UVC is the pre-season No. 1 choice over teams that played for the title a year ago.“This group has been knocking on the door for the last few years,” York said.

No. 2 Blanchet Catholic beat UVC in the semifinals to make the championship game last spring, the first in program history. The Cavaliers graduated only one. Two-time All-Stater Spencer Kowalski, and return 12 varsity players. That includes speedy infielders Noah Hancock and Dylan Cuff, District Pitcher of the Year Drew Bartels, First Team All-State OF Griffen Mucken and standout junior pitcher Carson McNally, among others. This is a tight-knit group the majority of whom have played together the past three years. Absent injuries, there is no reason that this team should not figure prominently in the mix again this season.

No. 3 Knappa won 17 games and a league championship a year ago. The Loggers have made the quarterfinals or better in 16 of the past 17 seasons and the semifinals or better in nine of the last 10. This year’s team will need to replace two full-time starters lost to graduation, as well as senior LHP/CF, who suffered an arm injury during wrestling season. The losses are significant, especially on the mound, but Jeff Miller’s team soldiers on, led by First Team All-State RHP Jaxon Dietrichs, All-State SS Jude Miller, All-State INF Treven Moreland, senior catcher Ash Baldwin and All-League infielders Karson Casper and Braxton Hill. Among the team’s five newcomers, all are very athletic. Keep an eye on freshman RHP/OF Oliver Stevens. He could be special.

No. 4 Kennedy dominated the state last year to the tune of 31-0, including a 10-0 win in six innings in the state final. Coach Kevin Moffatt says that the graduation of 12 seniors necessitates the first major rebuild for the program in almost 20 years, as the team lost 98 percent of its pitching, defense and offense from last year. We’ll see… 2B Brody Klienschmit is the lone returning starter, with seniors Dom Beyer and Isaac Berning expected to be good all-around players. “All other positions are up for grabs,” Moffatt said. This should put Kennedy in the position of hunter rather than hunted for the first time in a dozen years. It’s going to be a new experience the coach said. Moffatt also said that his young players work hard and are eager to learn, which suggests that the rebuild may not take long.

No. 6 Regis reached the second round of the state tournament last year. The Rams graduated two who were valuable leaders and defenders but they will be very competitive this year. Players to watch include SS/RHP Max Eaton, C Noah Koenig, OFs Kollin Schumacher and Parker Bartholomew and INF/RHP Bryson Nygren. There also are three talented freshmen who should see a lot of time on the mound this spring.

No. 7 St. Paul, the only 1A public school regularly in the rankings, may be rebuilding this year after graduating 12 seniors, including three of its top five pitchers and six position players. Junior Clay Smith is the best of the returning players. Catcher Brett Knutson also is back. The Buckaroos’ fortunes may depend on how well three players fare in their return from injuries. They include football stars Ralph and George Pohlschneider and junior infielder Grady Wolf.

No. 9 Grant Union / Prairie City / Monument won 19 games and played Blanchet Catholic close in a playoff game. That’s big news recently for the Prospectors, who have a rich tradition in baseball they are trying to reclaim under third-year head coach RC Huerta. By all accounts the team should be better in 2024 after graduating only one impact players. Those returning include All-State catcher Talon Van Cleave, All-State SS Sheldon Lenz and All-State OF Ryland Bell. The team also returns All-League OFs Eric Culley and Syrus Workman, All-League infielder Weston Suchorski and All-League utility player/RHP Baryn Huerta. The team has modest goals, but home playoff games and advancing beyond the playoff’s second round are among them.

No. 10 Reedsport moves into 2024 without staff ace Gabe Foster and one other graduated senior. That means many return from last year’s 19-win team: seniors Cody Shuttpulz, JB Noel and Kenny Gould, juniors Nate Farris and Jordan Thompson, and sophomores Dawson Ward, Bryson Manicke, Tharin Johnson and Noah Blosch. Coach Todd Harrington expects his squad to excel on the mound, in the field and at bat. One game at a time will be important for this team, which should win at a prolific rate.