Senior nucleus out front for Tigers
Douglas High seniors Trevor Tierney, Tomas Leitenbauer, Tanner Valenzuela and Logan Fencl have played baseball together going back to their Carson Valley Little League days. They are now preparing to play one last spring season together, and if all goes well, to going out together on an upbeat note for the Tigers.
“I think we have a good team,” said Leitenbauer, who started in left field last year and is now in his third varsity campaign. “We’ve been playing together forever, so we have good chemistry … I think we’ll do all right.”
The Tigers open Thursday at home with a 4 p.m. Mike Bearman Memorial Tournament contest against South Tahoe.
Douglas recovered from an 0-10 start to compile an 8-14 conference record last year (8-17 overall), only to miss a postseason berth on a tie-breaker to McQueen. Six of those conference losses were decided by three runs or less.
“Just as far as the season overall, I think it’s going to be exciting,” said Tierney, an outfielder. “We have a lot of guys coming back, which means we can improve on what we did last year.”
Tigers are motivated by memories of how the playoffs eluded them in 2015.
“I think this team needs to make playoffs,” Tierney said. “That’s my goal, anyway … and once you get there, then you can set a new goal.”
Marc Walling is entering his first season as head coach of the Douglas program and looking for this senior nucleus to provide leadership.
“They’ve been doing a good job of working hard and setting an example for the underclassmen,” Walling said. “They’ll kind of be the first class with me that helps establish my expectations and where I’d like to go with the program.”
Added Fencl: “I hope we have a great year and we have a big junior group so we want to set an example for them so they can play even better next year.”
Fencl, who is expected to play third base this season, is no stranger to Douglas baseball since two older brothers played for the Tigers.
“Logan worked hard all through the off-season and he’s made a lot of progress,” Walling said.
Valenzuela is a pitcher who returns with experience coming out of the bullpen.
“We’ll be playing a lot of small ball and really relying on good pitching, good defense and good hitting,” Valenzuela said. “We have a well-rounded team.”
Among the current juniors who saw action as starters last year were pitcher Isaiah Schat (honorable mention all-conference), infielder Spencer Trivitt, utility player Haden Keller, pitcher Hunter Simpson, second baseman Kindel Isham and first baseman Haydn Brown. Two sophomores, pitcher Blake Murray and shortstop Jayden Foster, also played in starting roles last year. Trivitt and Keller finished the 2015 conference season as the Tigers’ leading hitters with respective .371 and .353 batting averages.
Leitenbauer and Tierney were also starters in football. Leitenbauer was a second-team all-Sierra League wide receiver the last two seasons and Tierney started as a defensive back.
“They’re all pretty solid athletes and they’re good leaders for this team,” Walling said of the senior quartet.
Now, they’re hoping all that experience of playing together can pay some dividends in the season.
“We trust each other to give 100 percent and get the job done,” Leitenbauer said.