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Local baseball, softball squads get in preseason scrimmage work
by Dan Eckles
Mar 02, 2013 | 2276 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed High bench players and coaches were focused on this play at the plate during the Raiders' scrimmage against McQueen Saturday.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Reed High bench players and coaches were focused on this play at the plate during the Raiders' scrimmage against McQueen Saturday.
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The last Saturday in February marks the first day of spring sports practice and the first Saturday of March is often called 'Scrimmage Saturday.' That's because it is usually the final weekend before teams start non-league play and many coaches use it to get in scrimmages and evaluate their teams after a week of workouts.

"We lost five starters out of our lineup from a year ago," third-year Reed softball coach Jon Wunder said. "I knew we had pitching, but we need to work on defense. We're moving some kids around to see where they fit and we have to re-tool our batting order. This day was absolutely helpful."

Reed got in a trio of scrimmages Saturday, competing in simulated games against Reno, Manogue and Douglas, all at Manogue.

"The first game, against Reno, was a little rocky," Wunder said. "We committed three errors in the first inning and gave up three runs. We were better against Manogue and then we finished against Douglas, where we didn't play our best. We're moving some kids around and we've got some who didn't get a lot of experience last year. There will be some growing pains but I saw a lot of positives today."

Another perennial state softball power, Spanish Springs, used a similar plan for 'Scrimmage Saturday.' The Cougars competed in three scrimmages at Carson High, against Damonte Ranch, North Valleys and Carson.

Eighth-year Cougars coach Jeff Davidson was ecstatic Saturday evening after watching his team compete.

"It was a great day," Davidson said. "I pitched three different pitchers, one each game. Every kid got to play a game and a half to two games. The team hit the ball extremely well. I was very pleased."

Davidson added that he's kept a large roster this spring and the competition Saturday was key in helping him continue to evaluate players.

"We're carrying 16, so we're extremely deep at each position," he said. "I wanted to give everyone an extended opportunity of playing and I did that today. We made some base-running mistakes and missed a few signs, but that's stuff you expect to see early on. Overall, the team did well. We played very good defense and hit extremely well."

On the boys side, the Rail City's triumvirate of baseball programs also used 'Scrimmage Saturday' to get in some work. Sparks, Spanish Springs and Reed were all in action, working to get in a spring routine.

"I wanted to see the kids giving it their best, working on situations and knowing what they need to do when they get ball," said Sparks coach Greg Vasko, whose Railroaders scrimmaged Wooster Saturday. "Overall, I was pretty pleased with what they did .... We're not there by any means, but in terms of this early in the season and where we're at, we did OK. But we definitely can improve."

A second Sparks-area program, Spanish Springs, traveled to south Reno for scrimmages against Galena and Carson. The Cougars played eight innings each against the Grizzlies and Senators, working in straight game and specific situations at various times.

Third-year SSHS skipper Ben Hofmann said there were positives and negatives.

"I liked the way we threw," he said. "I thought we pitched pretty well. That's a positive. We had some good situational at bats early on and then, really, toward the end, we didn't swing it well.

"Everyone talks about pitching being ahead of the offense early on. The two other teams both struggled at times at the plate too. Overall, the timing is off a little bit. It's hard to simulate game stuff in practice so this was good. There's stuff we can build on."

At Reed, the Raiders' baseball team hosted McQueen for some preseason scrimmage work. Veteran coach John Phenix led the RHS program for more than two decades, starting in 1980, before taking the last 10 years off. He was named the head coach again last fall and was gushing with excitement after watching his team compete Saturday.

"There were very few negatives for a scrimmage this early and with a new coaching staff," Phenix said. "I was totally in shock for a while. I just thought it was great the way we approached the game.

"I was so happy. I couldn't believe it. The attitude and hustle were great. Their approach at the plate was good and so was their communication. Our senior leadership took over and the younger kids responded. I'm just totally happy with the kids. "

Most local softball and baseball programs play season openers Thursday.

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