Photo credit: 1460 ESPN Yakima

Three Key Players

Ronin Haynes C - He’s a returning First Team All League catcher who hit .400 this past season. Haynes is a clubhouse leader in every sense of the term. The life long catcher is essentially an extra coach when he’s on the field.

TJ Scherting CF - Scherting was a Second Team All League outfielder last year. His elite speed makes him an incredibly rangy center fielder, as well as a threat on the basepaths. The coaching staff is hopeful he can make an even bigger leap this year.

Dalton Thomas SS - Thomas is a highly athletic and energetic shortstop. With all the rotating that will happen in Wenatchee’s infield, he is expected to be a rock out there. Has a proven track record of getting on base at the top of the order.

Overview

When you think 4A baseball on the eastside, it’s easy to get drawn into the allure of the Tri-Cities or Greater Spokane League. Wenatchee is determined to get their name in that conversation every single season.

Of course, the easiest way to do that is by winning games. Wenatchee is no stranger to that, as they have won three of the past six Big Nine championships.

This past year they had something of a cinderella season. A starting lineup that featured six sophomores somehow made it to the Final Four in Pasco.

That wealth of experience returning has the Panthers fired up. Expectations are justifiably through the roof as Wenatchee kicks off their 2019 campaign.

You can’t win a championship without a solid pitching staff. Wenatchee definitely has a good one and it’s anchored by returning All Leaguers Jared Rubash and Thomas Blakney.

Both of them were thrown into the fire last year as sophomore’s, and they both thrived as go to starters. Rubash finished with a 1.95 ERA, while Blakney had a 1.57 ERA of his own.

Projected to make spot starts (and also come out of the bullpen), are senior’s Shane Huffacker, Jerdan Velasuez, Carson Emerson, as well as junior Colton Files.

A vital part to Wenatchee’s success is going to be senior catcher Ronin Haynes. He’s going to be hitting in the three spot in the lineup, which means big production is expected out of him. It’s a luxury for any coach to have a catcher of Haynes caliber on the roster.

Also look for junior Jaylen Heggem behind the dish whenever Haynes needs a timeout. He’s a more than capable substitute.

When Blakney and Rubash aren’t toeing the rubber, they’ll be holding down infield spots at third base and second base, respectively.

If pitching wasn’t their forte, these two both could be full time infielders. Their arms translate well making throws around the diamond. Expect them to line the 6 and 7 spots in the lineup, and give any rally a second life.

For the second year in a row, Rubash’s double play partner is going to be Dalton Thomas. While there certainly is no shortage of quality infield play in the Big Nine, Thomas could earn an All League honor this year.

Holding down first base will likely be junior Chandler Holaday. He hit .327 this past season en route to a second team All League season.

Highlighting the outfield will most certainly be junior center fielder TJ Scherting. All the physical tools are already there to be a great player, the next step for him will be to be a more vocal leader.

Manning the corner spots will be clean up hitter Shane Huffaker and speedster Nolan Dorey. Back up catcher Heggem will also get looks to get his bat in the lineup.

Projection

Given Wenatchee’s final four appearance last year, it’d be easy to say this team should be the Big Nine Favorite. It’s not that simple however. Moses Lake, West Valley, and Eastmont are always going to be perennial contenders. Then there’s ‘on the rise’ Eisenhower, and you can never count out Henry Gargus and Davis. With that being said, there’s too much talent on Wenatchee for them not to be contenders. The expectation has to be making it back to Pasco.

Key games

@ Richland 3/16

West Valley 3/29

Moses Lake 4/19