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Baseball: Canby improves on several fronts despite missing playoffs (season review)

by: JEFF GOODMAN - Senior catcher David Kurronen was one of five Canby baseball players to receive all-conference recognition this season. The Cougars took fourth place in the Three Rivers League.Last year, the Canby baseball team made the playoffs. This year, it didn’t.

But there was a prevalent feeling among the Cougars that the 2014 campaign was somehow more satisfying than the one that preceded it.

As frustrated as they were to have their season cut short with a 2-0 loss to Aloha in the Class 6A play-in round, they made progress on a variety of other metrics under third-year coach J.J. Stolsig.

They won 13 games after earning just six victories a year earlier, and they posted six conference wins after mustering just one last season.

Canby improved at the plate as well, averaging 4.54 runs per game after scoring an average of just 2.48 in 2013.

The Cougars, who endured a 12-game losing streak during Three Rivers League play last year, never dropped more than four games in a row this season.

“We’ve fought in the close games, where before we’d just roll over,” senior Jacob Reece said earlier this year. “We’ve had a lot of close games, and we’re battling them out. ... We try to go in with an underdog mentality, but we have to play like we know we can win at the same time.”

Five Canby players received all-league recognition this season, including two second-team honorees in Nico Tellache and Noah Kyllo.

Tellache, who made the second team as a pitcher with a 1.75 earned-run average and 53 strikeouts in 56 innings, also earned honorable mention as an outfielder.

Asked about the biggest difference between this past season and the 2013 campaign, the sophomore responded without hesitation: “The leadership, definitely.”

Kyllo, who spent previous spring terms with the boys tennis and track and field programs, made the all-TRL second team as an outfielder during his senior season with the baseball team.

His two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning of Canby’s 5-4 win over Lakeridge on April 24 exemplified both his skill and his poise.

“He’s athletic, he plays a good outfield and he swings the bat pretty good,” Stolsig said. “He doesn’t really get rattled. He’s been an athlete long enough and he’s competed in football, so he just goes out there and does his thing.”

Three other senior members of Stolsig’s team —pitchers Jon Inman and Trevin Stephens and catcher David Kurronen — received all-TRL honorable mention.

Inman, who plans to continue his career with the Pacific Boxers, completed a no-hitter April 25 in the Cougars’ 7-0 win over Lakeridge.

The Eagle Scout said this year’s dynamic stood in stark contrast to the previous campaign, when the team went 2-19 after then-catcher Mikey Caruso sustained a season-ending ankle injury.

“After we lost Mikey, we just got down on ourselves,” Inman said earlier this year. “It was bad because no one really stepped up. (This season) we don’t have a single person, but collectively we know we have to pull together to do well. A couple of us did zero-period weights in the offseason. We felt ownership of our team.”

Stephens, meanwhile, showcased his two-way skills in his final season at Canby. He hit a two-run home run in a game against Clackamas at home April 28, and he threw a complete game with six strikeouts while adding two RBI in the team’s 3-2 win over Oregon City in its regular-season finale.

Kurronen was the regular starter at catcher this season after filling in behind the plate after Caruso’s injury last year. He played a key role for the Cougars, whose graduating class also includes Kyllo, Kurronen, Stephens and Reece as well as Hunter Spriggs, Parker Woodley, Mike Patton, Jacob Posey, Cooper Fitch and Andrew Riley.

Clackamas senior Elliott Cary, who batted .512 during the regular season, was named the TRL player of the year.

Clackamas senior Taylor Stinson and Lake Oswego senior Harrison Reece were honored as co-pitchers of the year.

West Linn’s Joe Monahan was voted the league’s coach of the year. The Lions shared the conference title with Clackamas and Lake Oswego.

North Medford captured the 6A title with a 3-2 win over Eugene-Sheldon, the 2013 state champion.

***

AT A GLANCE

CANBY BASEBALL 2014

Record: 13-13 (6-9 in the Three Rivers League)

Playoffs: None; lost to Aloha in the Class 6A play-in round, 2-0

Key facts: Took fourth place in the conference standings; finished at No. 21 in the 6A rankings; went 7-3 in preseason play; won season series against West Linn and Lakeridge; lost six games by three runs or fewer

Best win: 2-1 over eventual state quarterfinalist Lake Oswego on the road May 5

Toughest loss: 7-6 loss to Beaverton in a 12-inning thriller at home April 7

All-league second team: sophomore pitcher Nico Tellache, senior outfielder Noah Kyllo

Honorable mention: senior pitcher Jon Inman, senior pitcher Trevin Stephens, senior catcher David Kurronen, sophomore outfielder Nico Tellache



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