The 17-member Yosemite High baseball team opened it’s season with a 7-4 win over McLane Feb. 24 in the Minarets Tournament.
The Badgers will play six games in the tournament that extends over a three week period.
This year’s 17-member Badger rooster includes 6 seniors, 9 juniors and 2 sophomores. with three players who are playing their fourth year on the varsity team.
The team features two senior players that have three years varsity experience under their belts coming in this season - pitchers Austen Burgeno and Evan Prater.
Three seniors did not play last year - right fielder Luke Howell, left fielder Cannon Eames (playing for the first time since his freshman year on the JV team), and Brian Mullarkey - but all three are very athletic, will get back to baseball form quickly and are expected to get better as the season goes on.
One of the leaders of the team is senior Chris Ward. Just coming off a strong soccer season, Ward played varsity ball as a sophomore and brings lots of experience to the team.
“Chris is our utility player and a key player on this team,” Coach Eames said. “ We expect big things from him this season.”
Two starters are sophomores - first baseman Jensen Pincus and pitcher/third baseman Owen Bazzar.
“These are two very talented baseball players,” Eames said.
At the start of the season about the only big question mark for Coach Eames in his lineup was who his catcher was going to be.
“That got settled pretty quickly as Sage Crosswhite stepped up and showed us early on he is going to be a great player behind the plate for us,” Eames said.
Up from last year’s JV team is junior outfielder Sam Lynch, pitcher/second baseman Nick Pierce, pitcher/second baseman Clayton Elrod, pitcher Troy Fite, pitcher Noah McIntyre, and outfielders Ravi Neil and Adam Solis.
And currently starting at second base is junior Trinity Curtis, one of about 1,200 girls playing on boys high school teams in the country according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Opening win over Mclane
Again McLane, Yosemite struck early with 4 runs in the bottom of the first inning but McLane came back to tie the game with 4 runs of their own in the top of the fifth inning.
Yosemite scored three more runs in the bottom of the 6th inning for the win as the game was called for hitting the time limit allowed for a game.
Pincus pitched two scoreless innings in the game and Burgeno pitched two innings with the Badgers giving up four unearned runs on errors.
Sophomore Bazzar closed the game with two scoreless innings and got the win.
Three Badgers players had two hits in the game - Prater, Howell and Crosswhite.
Ward was 1 for 3 and drove in the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth with a two-run single. Crosswhite had a double to bring in the last run of the game for Yosemite.
Eames feels with the experience this team has, the Badgers will compete for a league title in the NSL, a six-team league that has four new head coaches this year.
“Kerman has been the class of the league in recent years, but I feel this year it’s wide open to three or four teams that could win league,” Eames said.
Eames is being assisted by John McMillen, and his son and former Badger player Justin McMillen. John served as the Badger’s head coach for 11 years before he stepped-down after the 2014 season.
Last year’s team, under second-year Coach JD Burnett, had a 13-13 season, going 5-10 in the North Sequoia League, and received the No. 11 seed in the CIF Central Section D-IV playoffs. The team lost to the No. 6 seed Mission Oak Hawks of Tulare 6-5 in the opening round.
Burnett made a decision not to continue coaching baseball after last season, wanting to devote more time to the Badger football program. His assistant coaches, Bob Siebenberg, Clyde Derrickson and Bill Stolp are now coaching at Minarets.
The team will play Liberty at 10 a.m. Saturday at Minarets and will travel to Parlier on March 7. Complete schedule can be seen at www.maxpreeps.com.