Veteran line-up makes Cloverdale a force to be reckoned with
The familiar crack of the bat and smell of freshly cut grass will be back at City Field this month, with the welcome return of Cloverdale High School baseball.
The recent state ruling allowing outdoor sports translates to a 17-game spring season for the Eagles, with the first pre-league game slated for late March.
“It’s been difficult to schedule games in this situation, with everyone finding out they’re starting the season on short notice,” CHS coach Ben West reported. “Not being able to expand past neighboring counties and some leagues in the area allowing less games to play has created some challenges. As of now our first scheduled varsity contest is March 27, but we’re hopeful to schedule more. The guys know to be ready to play at any moment,” he added.
The Eagles have every reason for optimism heading into the 2021 campaign, returning a roster loaded with talent and experience that saw their season end after just four games last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have a strong group of athletes coming back this year,” West said. “We have more participation than I’ve had since joining the program, so there’s going to be a lot of competition for open positions at the varsity level, even from lower class guys. This is going to make us stronger in the long run, and the future looks bright.”
Heading the list of returning seniors is four-year varsity standout Collin Patterson, a coach’s dream that can play any position on the field. He’ll be joined by four-year veteran first-baseman Josh Lemley and versatile third-year infielder Logan Axell.
“Josh will probably be in the heart of our lineup,” West noted. “Logan made large improvements offensively in both consistency and power last year so we’re excited to get his bat going again.”
Another player on the verge of a big season is third-year varsity junior David Alvarez, who figures to play a prominent role whether toeing the rubber or at the plate.
“David has our strongest arm on the mound,” West said. “He’ll likely be the number one starter going into the season.”
Second year pitcher/utility man Gabe Wlodarczyk is another junior to watch, a key player that will make contributions all over the field.
“Gabe played a huge role for us last year,” West noted. “Expect an increase in time on the mound for him this year, as well as his bat once we get going.”
The Eagles will kick off the 2021 schedule on Saturday, March 27 at Credo (Rohnert Park, 4 p.m.) and open the league season on April 6 against visiting Kelseyville (4 p.m.).