R-C Sports Notebook: Now the season starts | RecordCourier.com

R-C Sports Notebook: Now the season starts

by Joey Crandall

Things step up a notch over the next month in Sierra League softball and baseball action.

After two series sweeps of South Tahoe and Hug to open league play, the Douglas baseball team hosts Reno Wednesday afternoon to open up what will be the toughest stretch of the season for the Tigers.

Douglas opened with an impressive sweep over South Tahoe and then turned around to upend defending High Desert League champ McQueen in a 17-16 shootout last Tuesday.

The Tigers were next to flawless in a three-game sweep over the Hawks this weekend and will take on the Huskies, who are coming off their first-ever series loss to North Valleys.

Reno is currenty ranked No. 1 in the Sierra Nevada Sports Media Poll, but will likely drop iwhen this week’s rankings come out.

Look for the Huskies to come out strong Wednesday, but don’t expect the Tigers to back down either.

Douglas has a stong mix of hitting and defense this year, but the thing that stands out the most so far is the exceptional depth in its bullpen.

The Tigers have three legitimate all-league contenders as starters, but have also trotted out seven other guys on the mound who have combined for 17 strikeouts in modest relief appearances through 12 games.

Douglas turns around after a Saturday doubleheader at Reno to host fourth-ranked Manogue Tuesday and take on a solid Wooster program in a three-game series the following weekend.

In softball, the Lady Tigers have been strong through their opening four weeks with a 10-4 record overall, going 5-3 against Northern 4A teams.

The Lady Tigers are coming off a three-game sweep of Hug, but will face what will probably end up being their stiffest test of the season Wednesday and Saturday against two-time defending Sierra League champion Reno.

The freshmen have been the surprise for the Tigers so far as third baseman Emily Weaver and catcher Katrina Morgan are among the team’s most complete players offensively and defensively.

The overall youth of the team gives plenty of reason for hope in the future, but with the way they’re playing right now, don’t be surprised to see them pull off some upsets as the year progresses.

When it’s all said and done, Douglas may end up being the sleeper surprise of this year in softball.

After receiving strong interest from Fresno State, UNLV and Nevada, Douglas football standout linebacker Brent Koontz opted for NAIA Southern Oregon University in Ashland.

He should make an immediate impact in the Raiders’ lineup up there and should feel right at home as a number of former Tigers have gone on to do well at the same school.

Most notably, Douglas grad Gabe Hatchett just finished up a successful career there having led the Raiders in all-purpose yardage this past season. He has entered the 2007 NFL draft and is currently working out in Reno in preparation.

For more details on Koontz and Hatchett, check Wednesday’s Record-Courier print and online editions for stories on both players.

Talking with Douglas High athletic director Jeff Evans Monday morning, we joked that it appears work on the all-weather track will get back underway beginning early next week.

Jeff said he felt that we were finally done with the freezing temperatures for the year.

I agreed.

It started snowing six hours later.

We haven’t heard if there will be any more delays, but as far as we know, work is still expected to begin next week, pending any more weather delays.

Around here, you just never know.

Marco Hyman, jr., swimming; Kyle Heidt, jr., track and field: Hyman led a strong outing for the Tiger boys as the swimmers easily got past North Valleys in a dual meet at the Carson Valley Swim Center Friday.

Heidt won the long jump and the high jump as the Tiger jumpers won five of six possible jumping events in a four-way meet at Reno High last week.

I have an embarrassing track record of NCAA Tournament brackets over the last several years and this year was no different.

Heading into championship week, I have one final four team left and no national champion.

Personally I blame Wisconsin, who I picked to win it all, but the fault is mine for not paying attention to the Badgers’ injury report. Who knew a center could have so much of an impact on a team??

I knew I was in trouble when I lost Final Four team No. 1 (Indiana … you may start laughing now) on the first day of the second roun, but when Wisconsin followed one day later, I stopped paying attention.

Texas A&M didn’t last much longer, but honestly, who outside the state of Tennessee knew Memphis was that athletic? Well, Wolf Pack fans?

So keep that in mind next year when you’re planning your office pools — I’m a sucker when it comes to sentimental long shots.