Umpqua Valley Christian a unanimous favorite in Special District 4
The Umpqua Valley Christian Monarchs appear plenty motivated this season on the diamond after losing to Oakland in the first round of the Class 2A/1A baseball playoffs in 2018.
Umpqua Valley Christian, guided by Dave York, is a unanimous pick to win the Special District 4 title. League play is scheduled to begin on Tuesday — weather permitting — with Elkton (2-0 overall) at UVC (7-1), North Douglas (4-1) at Riddle (1-6) and Oakland (2-2-1) at Glide (1-3).
Elkton and UVC will play a doubleheader at Roseburg’s Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field (4:30 p.m.), assuming Mother Nature cooperates.
District 4 will be an all-Douglas County league, with Glendale (4-1) the other team competing. The top three teams will advance to the state playoffs.
“I love it,” York said. “It’s always competitive. There are a group of coaches in this league who do a really good job, and it’s going to be fun. I wouldn’t count anybody out.”
“Having an all-Douglas County league is a good thing,” Elkton coach Bill Shaw said.
“I think it’s awesome,” Oakland first-year coach Ben Lane said. “It will make travel nice.”
“I think every series is going to be a dogfight,” Riddle coach Jim Titus said.
Umpqua Valley Christian, which finished unbeaten in league and won 21 games overall last year, features an experienced cast of players. The Monarchs are No. 2 in the OSAA 2A/1A power rankings and No. 3 behind Knappa and Reedsport in this week’s OSAAtoday coaches’ poll.
“(The Monarchs) are way above everyone else (in the league),” Lane said. “All those kids returning, a phenomenal coaching staff, tradition. It’s going to be a great battle for second.”
“Umpqua Valley Christian far and away has the biggest advantage,” Shaw said. “They had a pretty good group who played in the Roseburg Legion summer program. Pitching-wise, they’re deep.”
UVC has six players back who received first or second-team all-league honors a year ago.
Senior shortstop/pitcher Jacob Luther was the District 4 player of the year and a first-team all-state infielder. Junior DH/pitcher/outfielder KC Pettibone made second-team all-state; senior pitcher Aaron Buechley was a third-team all-state selection; senior Kolby Mahoney was a first-team all-league utility player; sophomore catcher Sam Guastaferro was named first-team all-league; and senior Jacob Mesa was a second-team all-league DH.
“Umpqua Valley Christian is sound in every phase of the game,” Titus said.
The Monarchs have outscored their opponents 72-21 this season.
“I like my group a lot,” York said. “It’s finally a veteran group ... they play with a lot of maturity, work extremely hard and get along. I think they’re pretty hungry and want to improve.
“It would be nice to see them make a (postseason) run. I think they have it in them.”
North Douglas, coached by Jeff Davis, is led by three seniors — outfielder/shortstop Cal Parks, catcher Koldan Frieze and pitcher/infielder Brian Erickson — and junior outfielder Austin Frieze. Parks was a first-team all-league selection and made third-team all-state, Koldan Frieze was first-team all-league and Erickson and Austin Frieze were both second-team all-league.
The Warriors are No. 9 in the 2A/1A coaches’ poll.
Glendale, coached by Joe Moody, has a returning second-team all-league player in senior pitcher/infielder Alyx Rocha. Seniors Will Kidwell and Justin Rodriguez, and sophomores Jayden Landice and Kalab Cline both provided some punch at the plate in nonleague play.
Elkton has gotten only two games in due to the weather and Shaw is still putting the pieces together as far as the lineup. Senior Austin Luzier, a first-team all-league infielder, is the Elks’ top pitcher and will catch. The coach hopes seniors Jeff Tibbatts and Jaydn Woody, and sophomores Jayce Clevenger and Cooper Peters will step up.
Oakland lost five players to graduation who received all-league honors, including District 3 player of the year and first-team all-state infielder JP Redfield and first-team all-state outfielder Andrew Harrington. The Oakers lost to Kennedy in the quarterfinals.
Lane says sophomore Corbin Picknell and junior Dakota Percell, a second-team all-league infielder, are the top two pitchers. The coach is counting on seniors Dawson Tolliver, Jacob Brooksby and Gavin Harbour.
“We’re inexperienced,” Lane said. “We’ve put the ball in play, which pleases me. Defense is our Achilles’ heel right now.”
Glide has a new head coach in Scott Shaver, who guided the Dr. Stewart’s American Legion baseball team for 11 years before resigning last summer. The Wildcats dropped down from 3A to 2A this year.
Senior outfielder/pitcher/catcher Zach Holland, a second-team all-league catcher last year, is one of the best all-around athletes in the county. Sophomore second baseman Brett Narkiewicz was a second-team all-league selection. Senior third baseman/catcher Wyatt Estrada and junior pitcher/first baseman Caleb Alexander are among the other returnees for the Wildcats.
Riddle, which won 18 games last year and lost to Knappa in the first round of the playoffs, is led by junior pitcher Drake Borschowa, a first-team all-league pick. Other top returnees include senior first baseman Donoven Hargraves (first-team all-league), senior shortstop/third baseman Cameron McMichael and junior catcher/pitcher Cade Martin (second-team all-league).
SPECIAL DISTRICT 5
Reedsport, which has won 31 straight league games dating back to 2016, is favored to win its fifth league title in a row.
The Brave went 24-2 last year, getting upset 2-0 by Bandon in the quarterfinals.
Reedsport (6-1) has three returning all-state players in junior pitcher Dallas McGill, senior catcher Griffin Lavigne and senior outfielder Nick Glover.
In league openers Tuesday (weather permitting), Coquille (0-3) is at Bandon (1-6), Toledo (5-5) at Waldport (1-3), Siletz Valley (1-0) at Reedsport and Myrtle Point (0-2) at Gold Beach (0-3).