Bruin players gather to receive instruction from baseball coach Keith Wallin and his assistant coaches during Monday’s practice inside the Jayne P. Gibney Sports Center.
Talk to any of the coaches and players around the Brookings-Harbor High School baseball team and there is one consistent, resounding theme they are all buying into this season: work hard.
From the top to the bottom, the Bruins believe that their work ethic will bring them to their goals of having a winning season and claiming their first league title since 2007.
“We are going to work twice as hard as anyone else,” claims Bruin head coach Keith Wallin. “We are going to be great teammates towards each other. There isn’t going to be division, and we are going to work hard for one another.”
The second-year head coach, whose Bruins finished 8-15 last year with a 5-10 Far West league record, has already seen the results of that hard work paying off.
Last summer he coached the senior Babe Ruth league team, made up entirely of BHHS players, to a Southern Oregon State Championship and a deep run in the regionals, where they finished a mere two games away from heading to the league’s national world series.
That success showed the Bruins that they can compete with higher level competition and win, a mindset they are bringing into the 2014 season.
“We had a great summer,” said Wallin. “The boys played really hard, worked really hard, and played some high level competition.”
“We had a good summer program together and we’re all really good friends. We always have a lot of fun coming together, playing baseball and winning,” added senior infielder Alec McBride.
Wallin isn’t doing it alone, as he credits his coaching staff with helping to get the Bruin program back on track. Ryan Lathorpe, who played on the Bruins 2007 Far West league championship team, is on board to coach the JV team. Pitching coach Tim Aldrich, bench coach Scott Darger, and coaches Johnnie James and Allin Daniels all bring a wealth of baseball coaching experience and knowledge to the Bruin program and will be tasked with helping the players minimize mistakes to avoid giving up big innings, which was somewhat of an Achilles’ heel for last season’s Bruins team.
“Last year we led the league in double plays, so defensively, we were good,” said Wallin. “But we weren’t always good for a full seven innings. We are teaching the boys that if they make a mistake, to let it go instantly and move on to the next play.”
Wallin plans to put the Bruins’ advantage of team speed to good use.
“We run a lot of small ball. We are always looking for ways to put pressure on the defense,” declared Wallin. “If we can score a run an inning we will win a lot of ball games.”
The Bruins do have a wealth of senior leadership and talent to make a run at a league title. They will look to the likes of leadoff hitter Justin Murray, outfielder Ronnie Manley and catcher Isaac Ehlers among others, to provide the speed and bat control needed to manufacture runs in the type of offense the Bruins utilize.
Wallin also mentioned how he has such a wealth of quality players, such as McBride, a utility infielder that can put the bat on the ball any way he wishes, and Chandler Dodd, who Wallin states is a, “pure power baseball player that does gives 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.”
Dodd, Manley and Wyatt Aldrich will be handling a bulk of the duties on the mound, while players like senior Denny Bench being called upon for pinch hitting and running duties.
With all that’s in place, the Bruins have the potential to have a successful season.
“Believe me when I say we’ve got a lot of goals set very high this year,” Wallin said.
The Bruins open play at 5 p.m. Monday, March 17 at BHHS.