Naches Valley Baseball Highly Optimistic Heading Into 2020 Season
Caleb Deaton P/SS - Deaton is one of the top overall talents in the SCAC. Last year he was phenomenal, hitting .493 with 32 RBI. He also had an absurdly low 0.97 ERA, and struck out 72 batters. He’s an early favorite to take home league MVP honors this season.
Mitchell Cruzen P/SS - If the Rangers are to make a state title run, they will need Cruzen to continue pitching at an elite level. Across 15 appearances last year, he sported a 2.13 ERA. He also gets it done at the plate (.338 average), and in the field at shortstop.
Jack Jenkins P/3B - Jenkins is a highly consistent player. Last year as a sophomore he hit .429, en route to All League honors. He also has a nice glove holding down the ‘hot corner.’ The Rangers will be relying heavily on Jenkins for production this year.
The town of Naches is known for a lot of great things. Quality small town life, tremendous outdoor scenery, thriving agriculture.
But when an outsider thinks of the Naches Valley, it’s likely one of the first things that comes to mind is its fantastic baseball program.
It is certainly a point of pride in the community. Just about every single year, the Naches Valley Rangers appear to be making a run at a 1A State Title. Back in 2014, they actually took home the 1A State Championship.
Last year was a bit of a down year (by their standards), as their season would end in the district round. But optimism is as high as ever heading into the 2020 campaign, largely because they’re returning 80% of their roster, and a bevy of All League talents.
One thing that Naches Valley really has going for them this year is their pitching staff. It boasts two elite arms in Caleb Deaton and Mitchell Cruzen. Deaton is all about blowing past hitters, and racking up the strikeouts. Cruzen is much more location focused, while leaning on his defense to get outs.
To have a shot at a state title, it’s instrumental to have at least two elite arms. The Rangers coaching staff believe they have exactly that in these two hurlers.
When Deaton and Cruzen need a breather, a bevy of talented pitchers in their own right will come in. They include Jack Jenkins, Danny Cypher, and Gage Blanchard.
Handling catching duties will be a highly reliable junior in Danny Cypher. He got valuable experience last year, hitting .273 in 19 games. As long as he remains healthy, he’s looking to catch as many innings as possible this year.
Rotating at the all important shortstop position is going to be Deaton and Cruzen. Their rocket arms translate well to making throws around the infield
Projected to join them in the middle infield at second base is a rising junior in Kainen Sedge. He made sporadic appearances last year, but now has a real chance to lock down the job.
Returning at third base is going to be an ultra-reliable player in Jack Jenkins. There might be a lot of shuffling happening around him early on, but Jenkins is a guy you can write into the lineup card everyday.
The first base spot is still a bit of a toss up. A couple names to look out for would be Gage Blanchard and Garren Gooler.
Patrolling centerfield is going to be a speedy junior in Alex Bost. He showcases natural ability when it comes to tracking down fly balls, and making pinpoint throws. The corner outfield spots are still up for grabs, and should see more clarity as the season progresses.
It’s worth noting the program made major renovations to their home field and clubhouse this off-season. The Rangers are a polished team, but they’ll look that much more dapper in their new digs.
Every year the Naches Valley Rangers believe they are the team to beat in the SCAC West. Looking at their roster top to bottom, this could very well be the most talented team in the league. If their pitching staff delivers as expected, there’s enough pieces here to make a state title push.
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