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Youthful Tigers will focus on development


Abby's Pizza OIBA varsity squad is giving underclassmen the chance to acclimate to a new level of play

Newberg High School had one of the youngest baseball teams in the Pacific Conference in the spring, but with many of its top players scattered across the region playing on various teams, this summer is about development for the Abby’s Pizza Oregon Independent Baseball Association varsity team.

The Tigers started four sophomores Saturday versus Sherwood and three played key roles Monday in a 10-6 home loss to Lakeridge. by: SETH GORDON - Dead meat - Jason Mauleon prepares to tag out a runner attempting to steal second base during Newberg's 10-6 home loss to Lakeridge Monday. 

Newberg is also fielding a Futures team, but because it did not have a game, most of those players were available to play Monday.

“We had, like, 15 players in the dugout and every single player made it into the game and made an impact,” head coach Mitch Sturdivant said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do because we are missing some of those older guys. We’re trying to get the younger guys to this varsity level and experience some of the play.”

Sturdivant, who has been an assistant on NHS head coach Steve Mayfield’s staff the past two seasons and is in his third season of summer ball, said he has been impressed with his team’s attitude thus far.

“The energy level is high right now,” Sturdivant said. “Kids are keeping their heads up and that’s what we want to continue. Win or lose, the summer is the time to let kids develop, have fun and experience the side of baseball they don’t necessarily get in spring because it’s so competitive.”

The Tigers picked up their first victory of the summer June 18 with a 9-2 win over Aloha, but were edged 4-3 at McMinnville Friday before falling to the Bowmen on Saturday.

Lakeridge jumped out 9-2 lead through five innings, but Newberg responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and another in the bottom of the seventh to make it close.

“Their team started making errors and falling apart mentally,” Sturdivant said. “Because they got ahead early, they got relaxed. I told the younger kids to create opportunities for themselves to succeed by putting the ball in play and they did exactly that. That’s when we started making our run and our energy level came up. It’s always good to see that in younger athletes.”

Although the Tigers had a few errors of their own, Kody Renne made two stellar catches in left field for key outs. Catcher Chris Schrieber, who will be a senior in the fall, threw out two runners trying to steal second and also made an excellent play at the plate, surviving a collision to make the tag and prevent a run.

“He’s our workhorse behind the plate,” Sturdivant said. “He’s just leading these guys, working hard. Defensively, he’s our guy and he busts his butt behind the plate.”

The Tigers host McMinnville at 6 p.m. Wednesday before participating in the Grant Wooden Bat Tournament Thursday through Sunday in Portland.