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Coach Stanley expects the Kingsmen to figure in the mix


Putnam baseball coach Jason Stanley is hopeful that a good mix of youth and senior leadership will translate into success for his Kingsmen this spring.

“We don’t have as much experience as last year,” said Stanley. “But the kids have great attitudes and they work hard. As long as we stay healthy, we should compare favorably with last year’s team.”

A year ago the Kingsmen tied for fourth place in a highly competitive league that saw Sherwood (25-6, 15-2) win the league and the state championship.

“I think Sherwood will be the favorite [to win league] again,” said Stanley. “After that, the league should be pretty balanced.”

Putnam’s 18-man varsity roster includes eight seniors and 10 underclassmen.

Back to lead the Kingsmen are middle infielders Trace Loehr and Dylan Knoth.

A four-year-starter who has signed with Oregon State University, Loehr returns at shortstop. Selected the Northwest Oregon Conference Player of the Year, Loehr has been rated the best graduating high school senior in the northwestern United States.

Knoth returns to start at second base for a third consecutive season. He garnered honorable mention in last year’s NWOC all-star balloting.

The Kingsmen return another senior to the infield in Nick Edwards. He started at third base a year ago, but will start at first base this year.

Matt Schwietz, a junior who sat out most of last season with an injury, has earned the starting nod at third base.

Stanley says he’s got three players battling for the starting nod at catcher — senior Josh Bancroft, junior Grant Deffinbaugh and sophomore Jesse Countrymen. Bancroft saw action in the outfield and as back-up catcher last year, and he’s the only one of the three with varsity experience.

Stanley says that four underclassmen are his top prospects for the starting nod in the outfield: juniors Sean Deford and Eamon Gallagher, sophomore Alex Martin and freshman Sam Booth. Gallagher lettered on varsity last year, while Deford and Martin move up from jayvee and freshmen teams. Three of the four — Deford, Martin and Booth — will also pitch, Stanley said.

Stanley says he likes what he’s seen from seniors Braynden VanWormer and Kyle McCuin, and Deford and Martin on the mound in preseason.

“Any one of the four could materialize into my No. 1,” he said.

Deford and Martin are both lefties.

Rounding out the varsity roster are seniors Luis Lopez (infield/pitcher) and Ryan Dillon (outfield/pitcher); junior Tommy Irish (first base/pitcher); and sophomores Terran Oxman and Garrett Benedict (second base).

Playing with a full lineup, the Kingsmen looked sharp in their first two preseason games, a 16-0 trouncing of Forest Grove and a 7-2 win over Newberg.

McCuin and Martin pitched in the shutout of Forest Grove; Bancroft and Knoth both crushed the ball for home runs.