Baseball team looks back on great season
With 15 juniors on the roster, Douglas High baseball coach Lars Baker felt back in March that this team might be a year away from making some serious noise in the Northern 4A conference.
As it turned out, the Tigers were ahead of schedule en route to a 24-10 overall season record, second-place finish during the regular conference season and then second at the Northern 4A zone tournament.
“Everybody tells me what a good season we had, but to me, it was just another season where the kids worked hard to make their own breaks,” said Baker, who was honored as Northern 4A Coach of the Year.
“When you look at our roster and see 15 juniors, you’re thinking next year is the one you can bank on for your success. To have it happen this year, that was especially nice.”
There’s just one catch now.
“This puts pressure on the coaching staff to get this group of returners to come back next year and be just as successful,” Baker said. “They need to remember all the hard work they put in this year and realize that’s going to be what it takes to be successful again next year.”
Douglas had two first-team all-conference selections: junior pitcher Trent Tholen and senior outfielder Brady Ovard.
Tholen threw some big games for the Tigers during a season in which he compiled a 7-1 record and 3.19 ERA in 57 innings of work. Ovard hit .348 with three home runs, seven triples, 22 RBIs and 36 runs scored, plus the left-hander received the “Iron Mike” award as the team’s most valuable pitcher.
Two other Tigers were named second-team all-conference: Steve O’Brien at second base and Bruce Jacobsen at third base.
O’Brien, a senior who saw limited playing time last season due to a back ailment, rebounded to hit .381 with eight doubles and four triples.”
“Steve was definitely our biggest clutch performer,” Baker said. “He had three game-tying or game-winning hits,” Baker said.
Jacobsen, a switch-hitting junior, had a .327 batting average (over .400 from the right side), plus he led the team with nine doubles and 104 at-bats.
Beau Kruger, who is headed to Lassen College this fall, carried a .391 batting average and received honorable mention recognition at first base. Kruger hit .438 in the zone tournament, highlighted by his three-run sixth-inning homer that boosted the Tigers to a 9-6 opening round victory against Lowry.
Justin Ray was an honorable mention all-conference pitcher, primarily for his work out of the bullpen. The junior was 3-2 with two saves.
Two of those wins came in relief, including important come-from-behind wins against Galena and Sparks. The win over Sparks clinched second-place in the conference.
Kenny Nicoll and Dave Jones were co-recipients of the Most Improved Player award at the team’s awards dinner last Friday.
Also, the Best Team Player award was shared by Chad Cooke (who hit .318) and second baseman Clint Moreira (for his stellar defense).
Catcher Tommy Joyner hit .426 in league, tops on the team, and .366 overall for the season.
Thirteen of his hits went for extra bases, including four home runs.
Dave Jones, Matt Tretton and Tholen shared the team home run lead with five each.
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