Sky-Em expected to bunch up again.
A crowded pack sat near the top of the Sky-Em League baseball standings for most of last year before Sutherlin finally emerged to win the conference title.
The Bulldogs went 12-4, followed by Glide at 11-5, while Marist, Elmira and Pleasant Hill were all 10-6. Those same teams are expected to be in the lead pack again, but there could also be some surprises.
"With a guy like Marshal Looney at La Pine, the big left-hander, he is going to knock off some teams," said new Sutherlin coach Jeff Admire. "Nobody is going to go through the season unscathed. It could be like our team last season, someone could have four losses and be the league champion."
Marist and Pleasant Hill are each 2-0 as league play resumes today following spring vacation. Junction City is 1-0, followed by Elmira, La Pine and Sutherlin at 1-1.
The Spartans, who are ranked No. 1 in the state in the most recent coaches' poll, are the favorite, as they return a lot of experience off last year's roster.
Catcher David Fox, who was a first-team all-league and third-team all-state selection last year, has homered in both league games this season. Pitcher Dane Butler was a second-team selection, and he threw a shutout in a 4-0 win over Sutherlin.
Infielders Tyler Norman and Chris Hendrix were honorable mention picks, along with outfielder Jesse Hansen.
Sutherlin's Brian Parnell was a first-team all-league outfielder last year and will also play catcher this season.
The Bulldogs have a pair of solid pitchers in Ryan Major, a left-hander who was a second-team all-league selection, and Steve Gibbons, who received honorable mention.
After winning the Sky-Em title last season, Sutherlin reached the quarterfinals at state before losing to eventual champion The Dalles.
Glide had an even better run in the playoffs, as it reached the state semifinals before losing a 1-0 decision to Grant Union. The Wildcats return four starters off last year's roster, including senior shortstop Sky Manon, a first-team all-league designated hitter last season.
Senior catcher Jed Capouch was an honorable mention selection along with junior outfielder Taylor Skinner.
Pleasant Hill brings back a pair of talented pitchers in junior Preston Langeliers, a second-team all-league selection who threw a one-hitter this year against Glide, and Curt Neill.
"In this league, you have to have at least two good pitchers," Pleasant Hill coach Steve Smith said.
Third baseman Noah Breslaw was a first-team all-league selection, while catcher Barry Humphrey and outfielder Justin Martin were second-team picks. Junior outfielder Spud Breslaw received honorable mention.
Junction City returns eight starters, led by Josh Martin, a second-team all-league shortstop and an honorable mention pitcher. Senior first baseman Nathan Burden was an honorable mention designated hitter.
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|Title Annotation:||Baseball: Marist is the favorite among a pack of talented teams.; Sports|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Apr 2, 2002|
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