Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau-Douglas High School Yadaa.at Kalé Crimson Bears baseball team begin their season this weekend at Sitka.
The Sitka Wolves will also be hosting the Ketchikan Kings and Petersburg Vikings. Teams are expected to play up to five games each.
JDHS head coach Chad Bentz said the Crimson Bears are ready to get on a field.
“We have been locked up in the Field House (Dimond Park) which has been great, it is one hundred percent better than anything we got last Spring,” he said. “One thing we have going for us is we have depth, and when a team has depth every single practice will create some friendly competition… that is always a plus to have. It creates a competitive environment and any team wants that. You want to push yourself every single practice.”
Bentz said competition in practice puts the team into position to play their best against the league.
“The games will take care of themselves,” he said. “Baseball is a game where you can play a great game and lose.”
Most of the Seniors and Juniors had a freshman or sophomore season before the coronavirus pandemic shut down action last year.
“Now they are technically upper classmen,” Bentz said. “Which is good. Everyone in the state is in the exact same boat. One of our biggest things is every time we get an opportunity to practice or play we are going to play as hard as we can and work on getting better. That is all we can control.”
Bentz said he tells his team “There is always purpose or intent with every single throw. Don’t just throw the ball. Aim for something…”
Bentz said four year Crimson Bears players to watch include pitcher Brock McCormick and Garrett Bryant, both will be playing college baseball next year.
Senior Christian Ludeman is 100% recovered from a freshman injury in a season the JDHS team won state.
“We hope he gets a full year,” Bentz said. “Him and everyone. Again, if the we were shut down today this year is so much better than last year.”
McCormick hit a grand-slam home run during that state run, in the region championship game. Senior Olin Rawson pitched in the state semifinal that season.
“We have a good group of leaders for the younger guys,” Bentz said. “We have great veterans a good group of up-and-comers.”
Bentz noted sophomores Cayden Mesdag and Caleb Campbell as talented players who work just as hard in the class room and the weight room.
“And they just bust it in practice,” Bentz said.
Junior Gavin Millard is expected to contribute at shortstop and classmate Porter Nelson is showing improvement.
Bentz said he could name many more who are ready to play and that “the team can play all positions on the field and starters could change daily.”
“If someone is dragging a little bit, we’ll be like ‘hey, you know what? Today is not really your day, you’re not clicking, not a big deal, we are just going to sit you down and get somebody else in there.’ There is nothing wrong with that.”
Bentz has been an assistant or head coach for JDHS the past seven years. The JDHS coaching staff includes Erik McCormick, Chris Dilon, Larry Blatnick, Jack Schmidt and Will Race.
JDHS CRIMSON BEARS
Seniors - Luke Bibb, Garrett Bryant, Ben Coutu, Christian Ludeman, Brock McCormick, Malakai Nichols, Olin Rawson, Rae Razor.
Juniors - Paige Aline, Micah Hay, Gavin Millard, Porter Nelson, Kai Schmidt, Gaby Soto, Carter Walker.
Sophomores - Joseph Aline, Caleb Campbell, Eli Crupi, Luke Dean, Garrison Luben, Cayden Mesdag, Bohdi Nelson, Danny Palmer, Derrick Schawacker, Marcus Underwood.
Freshmen - Lamar Blatnick, Landon Simonson.