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By Dan Perrine
For The Record 

Bobcats hope to make an extended run in the baseball post season


Last updated 2/27/2024 at 10:14am

Coach Tim Erickson of the Orangefield Bobcats baseball team

Baseball has been very good at Orangefield the last several years. The prospects are high for another banner year on the diamond for the Bobcats this season.

In 2023 Orangefield played a tough non-district schedule that got the Bobcats ready for district which carried over into the playoffs. At one stretch the Bobcats won a remarkable 23 games in a row.

Coach Tim Erickson reflected on the performance of his Bobcats last year. "That win streak was big for our program. We made a pretty good run in the playoffs, we just ran into a really tough Central Heights team in the third round. Hopefully, we get an opportunity to face those guys again, and I know the kids are looking forward to it. It was a good season overall," Erickson replied.

Twelve seniors return from the district championship team last season for the Bobcats. This is the biggest senior class the coach has had since he came to Orangefield.

Centerfield will be covered by Kane Smith when the basketball playoffs come to a conclusion for the Bobcats. Smith is also the leadoff hitter in the Orangefield batting order. Erickson reminded, "Kane was an all-state player for us last year."

Brycen Tait will lead the Bobcat pitching staff. Tait won nine games as a solid reliable pitcher last season, and Erickson expects the same thing again from Brycen.

The Orangefield infield will have three familiar faces. Matthew Johnson returns at third base and should make some big strides as a sophomore. Caleb Fregia is running things at shortstop with three years on the varsity after moving to shortstop last year from second base. Adam Tran is back at second base where he started last season.

Camden Fountain will play first base while Kyle Michael an all-stater last year is recuperating from a knee injury suffered during the football season. "Camden is a guy we can play anywhere on the field but catcher, so he has stepped into the first base spot and really done well through the scrimmages and should hold down that position really well," Erickson predicted.

Joining Kane Smith in the outfield will be Cameron Dearing in left field. Dearing was a part time starter last year and was a big contributor for the Bobcats. In right field Logan Cheek has a solid bat, is a really good fielder, and a lot is expected from him.

With so many returners there are not very many holes to fill for Coach Erickson. Catching is the big one with Carson Worthy the prime candidate to be behind the plate for the bulk of the Bobcat games this season.

Erickson elaborated, "Carson caught every game on junior varsity last season and worked hard over the summer. He is fitting right in during the scrimmages doing really well, we're impressed with what he's done."

Kaleb Menard is another Bobcat who was brought up to the varsity for the playoffs last year. Menard played mostly on the junior varsity as a freshman, but is expected to be a big impact guy now as a sophomore at the plate and on the mound for Orangefield.

Kyler Green is a utility infielder who can fill in when one of the normal Bobcat starters is called on to pitch. Green also does a great job on the base paths according to Erickson.

Orangefield with its large group of seniors and returning lettermen there is a whole lineup of Bobcat hitters that can handle the bat. "We're going to limit strikeouts, we're going to have good at bats with guys that just know how to play the game because they've been in the system for three or four years now. I think top to bottom we're going to be really good," Erickson promised.

Big hitters should include Matthew Johnson who is making strides to drive runs in by hitting balls in the gaps. Logan Cheek drove in runs last year and is being counted on to repeat that this year. Kaleb Menard is another Bobcat that should really produce a lot of runs and take advantage of what his teammates in the lineup are doing to get on base while putting themselves in scoring position.

Kyle Michael has been a top hitter for Orangefield the last three seasons and is working hard through re-hab to be able to get the injured knee in shape for him to at least be able to swing the bat. Erickson informed, "Our goal is for the second round of district for Kyle to come back and designate hit. I think he will be there, no question. Kyle's working hard doing everything he has to do. Just to have him back in the lineup will be a big plus for the Bobcats."

Pitching has been a strength for Orangefield during Coach Erickson's tenure. This season should be no different with several arms the coach can call on to deliver on the mound.

The number one pitcher and leader of the pitching staff should be Brycen Tait. "We expect him to get the majority of the innings. We know he's going to give us quality starts when he goes out there. Brycen really knows how to pitch, he's going to give us a chance to win every time he's on the mound," Erickson praised.

Several other Orangefield pitchers are coming back. Garrett Rawls is in basketball, but when the playoffs conclude he will be a big addition with his strong arm. Colton Myers was used as a reliever during the previous season and is expected to fill the same role this year, but may get some starts during the tournament phase of the schedule.

Kaleb Menard could be the kind of pitcher who can beat any opponent he throws against. Erickson believes it is going to take Kaleb getting on the mound and getting comfortable so he can throw pitches around the strike zone.

Other Bobcats have been used in the early scrimmages. Erickson indicated, "Camden Fountain, Matthew Johnson, even Caleb Fregia have thrown a little just to give us some options when we get into these four game tournaments, or down the road when we're going to need somebody to step up to get on the mound."

The baseball program at Orangefield has become one of the most consistent winning teams in this area. Coach Erickson talked to his varsity players the third week of February about their goals for this season.

"The first goal is to win a district championship which I think is always the first thing we come to. That is our main goal and then the Bobcats had a goal to be the regional champions. We've had some success the last couple of years, we just want to build on that, and the players know they are capable of it they just need to be playing good ball at the end of the year," Erickson concluded.


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