Eight players from a young team that finished 7-19 overall, and 4-11 in the North Sequoia League last year, have returned this season to play for coach John McMillan with plans to improve on last season's record.
The Badgers are expecting strong performances from all league catcher, Stewart Carlson (.365, 11 RBIs), NSL underclassman of the year Evan Diehl (.348), and two-year letterman Joey Woolsey for the Badgers to contend in the NSL.
This year's varsity squad will carry only 10 or 11 players so they must be prepared to fill any roll on the team.
Juniors Tyler McIntyre (1-1, 3.23 era), and Woolsey look to be leading candidates as starting pitchers. Leadoff hitter Jarrett Barone (.289 on base percentage) and second baseman Brian Woolsey (.143, six RBIs) will also see plenty of work on the mound.
Newcomers from last years JV squad include Mayson Gaynor, Logan Szabaldi, and Michael Smith will start and fill various positions throughout the season. Although McMillan will once again be coaching a very young team, he feels that if "these players buy in to the team concept and put in the necessary hard work, there is no reason why we cannot contend in the NSL."
Defending NSL champions Kerman, look to be strong again despite losing starting pitchers Eric Montero to Fresno City College and ace Carlos Salazar to the Atlanta Braves in the third round of the MLB draft. Liberty-Madera Ranchos also lost their pitching ace, Connor Brogdon to Fresno City but are still expected to contend for the league title.
McMillan thinks Chowchilla should be strong again, even though they have a new coach. He is confident that the Badgers could be amongst the leaders as long as his players play to their potential.
First win for Badgers
After a tough 0-3 start, the Badgers racked up 11 hits in a dominating 17-3 victory over Corcoran High on Feb. 25. The Badgers tallied eight runs in the first and second innings to put the game out of reach of Corcoran early.
Barone pitched three innings allowing one earned run to pick up the victory.
Yosemite collected six hits in the first inning including RBI singles by Joey Woolsey, Smith, and Michael Silva. Their eight run second was aided by four Corcoran errors, two walks, and a hit batsman.
Singles by Smith and Silva drove in runs in the inning. A RBI double by Gaynor scored McIntyre in the fourth to complete the Badger scoring.
Yosemite was led at the plate by Carlson, Diehl, and Smith with two hits a piece.
Smith pitched two innings of shutout relief to close out the game.
Yosemite falls to Mission Oak 6-4
Mission Oak scored once in the fourth to break a 4-4 tie to defeat the Badgers 6-4 last Thursday in Tulare.
Yosemite out hit Mission Oak five to three but eight Badger walks led to five Hawk runs, and three costly errors led to three unearned runs as Yosemite handed the hosts this game.
Playing with only nine players because of slugger Diehl's illness, the Badgers scored two in the second to take a 2-1 lead. RBI ground outs by Tyler McIntyre and Gaynor plated Joey Woolsey and Smith who had singled and reached on an error respectively. The Hawks scored three in the bottom of the second to regain the lead.
Four walks and two singles off losing pitcher Joey Woolsey did the damage. The Badgers evened it up in the third when Woolsey connected on an RBI single and McIntyre walked to score a run. Mission Oak took the lead for good in the fourth. Two walks and an error on a potential inning ending double play grounder scored the unearned run.
The Hawks added another run in the sixth. Yosemite threatened in the top of the seventh but with two on and no out, Carlson and Woolsey struck out. A pick off play finished the game.
The Badgers were lead at the plate by Woolsey with two hits and a RBI. Anthony Moreno connected on his first career hit in the fourth. Last Saturday's game against Sunnyside was rained out.
The Badgers open league play at 4 p.m., Friday, March 14, against Liberty at home, and host Kerman at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 18, before visiting Sierra on Friday, March 21.
The team will also play in the highly competitive Fresno Easter Classic tournament, April 14-16.
Alumni game March 29
The Yosemite Baseball Boosters will hold their annual alumni baseball game at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 29. Yosemite alumni interested in playing in the game are asked to contact Kristi Bohna, (559) 676-2793.
The Boosters are looking for new club members from the community so they can continue to fund youth baseball programs in the Mountain Area and provide scholarships to baseball players who wish to continue their education past high school.
Details: Kristi Bohna, (559) 676-2793.