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Douglas baseball team set for first test of the 2001 season

by Chuck Smock

Flexibility will be the key word in the Douglas dugout this season.

Tigers baseball coach Fred Bendure has the luxury of having talented and versatile players up and down the bench.

Nine of the 21 players on the varsity roster are listed as pitchers. Four of those players have the potential to start in the field when they’re not scheduled to pitch.

Bendure has at least three solid players at every infield position except third base, where senior Adam Sheldon and junior Cal Lewis provide plenty of stability.

Eight different players enter the season looking for playing time in the outfield.

“We have some pretty good depth,” said Bendure, whose team will play host to Dayton today in a scrimmage that is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at the DHS diamond.

The Tigers will officially open the season on Thursday, when they play Fernley at Carson High in the first game of a preseason tournament.

Douglas will wrap up the tournament at home with two games Friday and two games Saturday.

Bendure said the main objective of the tournament is get a better idea of who will be playing where when the Tigers open the Northern 4A season with a home game against Carson on March 13.

“Basically, we’re going to use this preseason tournament to evaluate our pitchers and our position players to see who steps up,” Bendure said. “We’ll be able to tell a lot after the first five preseason games.”

Pitching, as is always the case, will set the tone for the Tigers this season.

Sophomore Austin Graham, junior Shane Cauley, senior Adam Sheldon, senior Matt Duffie and junior Darren Muren all return with varsity pitching experience.

Juniors Collin Muren, Tommy Hoyle, Matt Jacobsen and Andrew Sterling give the Tigers depth on the mound.

“We haven’t determined who is one, two or three,” Bendure said of a possible pitching rotation. “It’s too early to pin that down, but they’re all throwing well.

“One of the things we need to learn from our pitchers is, who are the starters, who are the middle relievers and who are the closers. Those are all question marks at this point. We need to get some games in to figure it out.”

Graham, who played a lot at first base last year as a freshman, is likely to play in the outfield when he’s not pitching. He also could see some time at first base.

Junior Erik Olson is another player who is expected to contribute at first base. Cal Lewis also can play first base.

Senior Johnny Mannelly leads a trio of players at second base. Sheldon and utility player Chad Cooper could also fill in at second base.

A knee injury hampered Mannelly all of last season, but he isn’t shown any effects of the injury.

“Johnny worked very hard in the offseason,” Bendure said. “His knee is 100 percent. He’s running very well. He and Shane (Cauley) are two of our bet glove men.”

Cauley is the returning starter at shortstop and is entering his third year on the varsity squad.

Mannelly or Sheldon likely will be called on to play shortstop when Cauley is pitching.

Ryan Haltom, Matt Saylo and Jeff Peters are battling for the starting spot at catcher. All three are expected to get some work in the preseason tournament, Bendure said.

Jordan Ovard, Rick Cagle, Evan Berry, Andrew Andrews, Tyson Tiago, Graham, Hoyle and Cooper make up the pool of players that should earn most of the playing time in the outfield.