Tualatin, with key players back, looks to defend its title

by: DAN BROOD - A RUN FOR THE WOLVES -- Tualatin High School junior Tanner Marsh crosses home plate during an early-season victory over Beaverton. The Wolves are looking to defend their Pacific Conference title. TUALATIN — There’s no denying it.

It very well could be a good — no, a great year — for the Tualatin High School baseball team.

“This is the year we’ve been looking forward to,” Tualatin coach Adam Strachan said. “We should have a really strong team. We should have good pitching, defense and offense. We’re real confident with the guys we have.”

The Timberwolves boast a strong group of returnees from last year’s squad that won the Pacific Conference title with a 16-1 league record while going 21-6 on the season.

Among those returnees are juniors Jacob Bennett and Karter Cook, who will lead the Wolves’ strong, deep pitching staff.

“There are six guys we’ll have on the mound that we can count on,” Strachan said. “If we can score five runs a game, we’ll have a chance to win a lot of games.”

Bennett and Cook, both hard-throwing right-handers, each garnered All-Pacific Conference honors last year as sophomores. Bennett was a first-team all-conference pick and Cook was a second-team selection.

“They’ll lead us,” Strachan said.

Other pitchers for Tualatin include senior left-hander Cooper Brunner, senior Cody Davidson, senior Taylor Boos and senior Jake Gellos.

At catcher, Tualatin will have Gellos, who was a second-team all-conference pick last year as a junior.

“He’ll be a key figure for us,” Strachan said. “He’s one of the best catchers you’ll see anywhere. Nothing gets by him. He’ll block everything.”

Junior Jackson Schleicher will also see action at catcher.

Tualatin’s infield will be anchored by senior second baseman Joey Fishback, who was a first-team all-conference selection last year.

Junior Tanner Marsh will take over at shortstop. Sophomore Nathan Senger will also see action as a middle infielder.

Boos will play at third base for the Wolves.

“He’s rock solid with great hands,” Strachan said.

Bennett will be at first base, and he’ll also see some action at third.

“He could play about any position,” Strachan said.

Junior Trevor Riese will play some at first base, as well as other spots.

Brunner, an Oregon State University commit and first-team all-conference selection a year ago, will be in center field.

“We’re really confident in him,” Strachan said. “He covers so much ground out there, and he has a real strong arm.”

Senior returnee Brandon Shroyer, a second-team all-conference pick at third base last year, moves to right field this year.

“We’re excited to have him out there,” Strachan said.

Juniors Cam Frey and Eli Robinson and sophomore Chase Anderson are vying for playing time in left field.

“We have some high expectations this year,” Cook said after he pitched the Wolves to an early-season win over Beaverton.

But, Strachan says, nothing comes easy in the Pacific Conference.

“Our conference is always underrated,” he said. “I think that us, Tigard and McMinnville look to be the top three teams. McMinnville always has strong pitching. Tigard is loaded with talent all over the field, and Tom (Campbell) is one of the best coaches anywhere. We’re excited to get out there and see what happens.”

The Wolves finished up their spring break trip to Arizona by getting a 12-7 win over Rogers, Ariz., and a 6-5 victory over Quartz Hill, Calif., at the Coach Bob Invitational, held in Pinnacle, Ariz.

On Tuesday, Tualatin battled Clackamas to a 1-1 tie in a non-league game played at Clackamas High School. The contest was called after the eight complete innings of play due to darkness.

The tie gives the Wolves a record of 5-1-1.

Tualatin will be back in action today (Thursday) when it hosts Jesuit in a non-league game starting at 4:30 p.m. On Tuesday, the Wolves will open Pacific Conference play when they travel to Newberg for a 4:30 p.m. contest.

Tualatin will be back home Wednesday to play Newberg at 4:30 p.m.

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