After experiencing a taste of success in 2013, the Douglas High baseball team is now looking to take its game to a new level.
And with a roster deep in veteran experience, coach Bruce Jacobsen believes the Tigers have the potential to make a lot of noise this spring. Douglas opens Thursday in the Mike Bearman Memorial Preseason Tournament with a 4 p.m. contest at home against Truckee.
“We’re going to be competitive,” Jacobsen said. “We have a host of returnees and we’re going to be counting on them to step up and do some good things.”
Douglas is coming off a 17-11 season in 2013 that ended with back-to-back losses against Spanish Springs (1-0) and Reed (5-2) in the Division I Northern Region Tournament. The season began on an even more promising note, however, when the Tigers jumped out to an early 12-1 record and eventually went on to reach the playoffs.
Seven of the team’s veterans are back for their third or fourth season. The list starts with Kyle Johnson, who is entering his fourth varsity campaign. Johnson received honorable mention recognition as a pitcher.
The third-year veterans include senior Dillon Lopez, who is to shortstop after playing the last two seasons at third base. Matt Santos is yet another senior entering his third varsity season, although his time has been limited the two previous years due to injuries.
Catcher Kaleb Foster and center fielder Cale Kynett are both juniors entering their third varsity season. Foster was a second-team all-region catcher last year. Kynett received honorable mention recognition as an outfielder and Dillon Lopez at third base.
Seniors Cole Peck and Dalton Grisell are also third-year veterans who are expected to combine with Johnson to give Douglas a solid starting rotation on the mound.
Seniors Parker Dixon and Dustin Plante, along with juniors Michael Mejia, Benjamin Penwell, Dustin Plante and Zachary Davies provide added pitching depth that will be critical during a league season when three to four games per week are scheduled.
“That’s where it’s at,” Jacobsen said. “We need our guys to throw strikes and be competitive, and if we can make some plays behind them, then we’ll see where we’re at.”
Rounding out the infield, Jacobsen said three candidates are competing to start at second base, including sophomore Logan Fencl, Plante and Dixon.
In addition to Kynett in the outfield, the Tigers have Grisell, Peck, Mejia and freshman Haden Keller competing for playing time.
Jacobsen liked what he saw during a scrimmage Saturday with Reno and Damonte Ranch. Reno is the two-time defending region tournament champion.
“It’s good to get out and see two teams that are very well coached, to see where you stack up and get a feel for where you are in the league,” Jacobsen said.
One of the season highlights will come on April 22 when the Tigers play Bishop Manogue in a game at Aces Ballpark, home of the Pacific Coast League Reno Aces. In addition to playing in a minor league ballpark, the game will also help out financially since a portion of the ticket sales go to the Douglas and Manogue programs. A time for the game has yet to be determined, according to Jacobsen.
“That is a super opportunity,” he said. “It’s a chance for them to get fans to their park and a fundraiser for us and just a chance for the kids to play in a great stadium like that.”