Attention Ashland baseball players ages 13-17: opportunity knocks.
Hit hard by graduation and ambition, the Ashland Pilots will feature an almost completely retooled starting lineup when their American Legion A regular season begins Tuesday against Hidden Valley.
Rosters are typically fluid when it comes to summer ball, but this year's Pilots are exceptional in that regard. Five players have graduated off the team, four more will be playing "up" for the local Legion AAA affiliate, the Medford Mustangs, and another has transferred out of the district, leaving holes all over the field.
June 11 HIDDEN VALLEY 6 p.m.
June 13 at Grants Pass 6 p.m.
June 24 at Hidden Valley 6 p.m.
June 28 at Phoenix 3 p.m.
June 29 CASCADE CHRISTIAN 1 p.m.
July 1 GRANTS PASS 6 p.m.
July 2 CRATER 5 p.m.
July 6 NORTH MEDFORD 1 p.m.
July 8 SOUTH MEDFORD 5 p.m.
July 13 at South Medford 1 p.m.
July 15 at North Medford 2 p.m.
July 16 at Crater 5:30 p.m.
July 18 PHOENIX 4 p.m.
July 24 at Cascade Christian noon
July 31 State Tournament at Roseburg TBA
* All events are doubleheaders.
"We're trying to win games but we also have to be smart," Ashland coach John Wallace said. "We have a ton of young guys and we have to see what they can do."
Wallace, who just completed his first season as the head varsity coach at Ashland High, will coach the Pilots for the first two weeks of the season before heading to Portland to work for the rest of the summer. Taking over coaching duties will be former Ashland slugger Ethan Schlecht, who recently completed his freshman campaign at Oregon Tech.
"(Schlecht) was excited to do it and I'm excited to have him do it," Wallace said. "I think the kids will respond to working with him."
Ashland High varsity standouts Carter Glick (catcher/pitcher), Bryce Rogan (outfielder), Eric Carlson (infielder) and Steen Fredrickson (infielder) are playing for the Mustangs this summer, while Aaron Scott (shortstop) has transferred to the North Medford school district and is playing for the Mavericks. The mass exodus means that between now and the end of July most of the Pilots will be adjusting to the next level on the job. Most, but not all. Returning for Ashland are Tommy Hulick, Vince Cammarota and Jack Carroll, the left-handed pitcher and recent Ashland High graduate who will be used sparingly on the mound.
Hulick and Jack Carroll's brother Jerry are expected to be the workhorses on the mound, says Wallace. Hulick, a righty, throws a high-70s (mph) fastball, a decent curve and a split-finger that's a work in progress. Jerry Carroll, another right-hander whose younger brother Jesse will also be on the team, also throws a high-70s fastball as well as a big curve and will be using this summer to work on his command.
Jose Perez, Matt Flynn and Nick Sanderson will be called upon to pitch as well.
In the field, the Pilots will roll out players with mostly junior varsity experience and varsity aspirations. Jett Hamik and Cammarota will take turns behind the plate, with Ty Mullholland possibly seeing spot duty there. Cammarota and Flynn will trade off at first base, Kyle Milgrim is the likely starter at second, Jose Perez at short and Mullholland and/or Hamik at third.
"(Hamik's) solid fundamentally behind the plate and with his swing," Wallace said. "He's young, he needs to get a little bit stronger, more active with his arm, but he's a good little catcher who's definitely going to be big for us all summer."
In the outfield, Hulick, Max Montgomery, who spent most of last spring running bases for the varsity team, Jerry Carroll, Noah Falkner and Tyler Clary are expected to see action, but starting spots were still up for grabs as of Wednesday.
As for the batting lineup, Wallace is still deciding who to put where.
Montgomery appears to be the frontrunner to bat leadoff, followed by junior varsity standout Milgrim, Hulick and Cammarota, but after that is anybody's guess.
"It just depends," Wallace said.
The Pilots have 28 games on their regular season schedule — 14 doubleheaders — followed by the state tournament, which begins July 28 in Roseburg. Ashland home games will be played at North Mountain Park.