A solid core of returning players gives Bruins Coach John Hallead hope that Columbia High’s 2014 baseball season will go better than its 2013 season.
“Last year was a rough year record-wise, but the varsity experience and development is the key for this year’s prospects,” Hallead said.
The list of returning star-ters includes junior pitcher and shortstop Dawson Reynier, junior utility man/-pitcher Tanner Rabinowitz, senior left fielder Jared Gar-wood, senior pitcher/in-fielder Clayton Gross, senior infielder Ryan Earls, junior designated hitter Blake Walker, sophomore center fielder Sam Rowlen, and sophomore infielder Tristan Bond.
Also vying for starting positions are senior Jordan McClain and sophomore Kaleb Brasuell, at first base; juniors Kyler Riggleman and Justice Douthit in the outfield; and senior utility man/pitcher Austin Walker.
All told, 29 players have turned out for baseball this spring. Hallead plans to carry 14 on the varsity roster and 15 on the jayvee. His assistant coaches this year are Chad Myers, Chuck Jacobs, and Tony Guler.
Defensively, the Bruins will go with the right-hander Reynier as their No. 1 starter. Gross, Earls, Garwood, and Rabinowitz also will see time on the mound in 2013, according to Hallead.
“Dawson was our best statistical pitcher last year and will be our ‘ace’ this year,” Hallead noted.
The pitching staff this year will be in the care of sophomore catcher Kyle Guler. “He possesses the most desire on our team of being a great baseball player, and he will be,” said Hallead.
McClain and Brasuell are competing for playing time at first base. “McClain had limited varsity action last year, and Brasuell was jayvee, so it’s really up to them who will play more often,” Hallead said.
Bond and Rabinowitz will share second base, and Earls and Gross both will see time at the hot corner.
When Reynier is pitching, Gross will start at shortstop, and vice versa, with no drop off in performance.
In the outfield, Garwood will be patrolling left field again, Rowlen will man center, and Rabinowitz, Riggleman, and Douthit will split time in right field.
“Garwood returns in left and is a very solid outfielder,” Hallead noted. “Rowlen will man center, with good range. Right field will be a combination.”
Columbia’s projected lineup for opening day this Saturday, March 15, has Rabinowitz leading off again, followed by Reynier, Walker, Garwood, Earls, Gross, McC-lain, Guler, and Bond or Rowlen.
“Rabinowitz has a knack for getting on base, and Reynier is a good situational leader,” Hallead said of the Bruins’ table-setters.
The power in Columbia’s line-up will come from Blake Walker and Garwood, according to Hallead, who also sees potential in the bats of Gross and Earls to produce quality at-bats.
Columbia, however, plans to rely more on its legs this year, moving runners around the bases and into scoring position for the lineup’s run producers to take advantage.
“We will be very well-coached this year on the bases,” Hallead said. “The key for our players is getting on base by any means necessary and putting pressure on defenses on the base paths.”
The Bruins open their 2014 season this Saturday at the Fort Vancouver Invitational Tournament. They begin 1A Trico League play next Tues-day with a double-header on Hecomovich Field, against the Castle Rock Rockets. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Hallead said Woodland, La Center, and Kalama will be the teams to beat for top Trico honors, but he also expects Castle Rock, Steven-son, and Toledo (all of which return multiple players) to field competitive teams. In any event, CHS will play 14 Trico games and 20 total in 2014.