The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Jeremy Burnham
The Journal 

Lind-Ritzville baseball prepares for Jamboree

Broncos coach looking to take step forward in new season


Last updated 3/11/2020 at 12:40pm

Jeremy Burnham

Josh McClure fields the ball barehanded before throwing to first base in practice.

RITZVILLE - Lind-Ritzville/Sprague baseball head coach Jason Hilzer didn't hesitate for a heartbeat when asked what his goals are for his team's 2020 season.

"We're going to compete in every game," Hilzer said before the team's second practice of the year.

Hilzer says 15 players turned out for the team this season, down one from last year. He's pleased with that number and says that it includes three fifth-year seniors who started playing varsity baseball in eighth grade.

"We also have four freshman," Hilzer said. "They led the junior high team last year."

Dustin Arlt, who was the junior high head coach last season, is the high school assistant coach this year. Hilzer said with four players who were in junior high last year playing key roles this year, having Arlt on board has been helpful.

"Our freshmen are experienced and pretty good kids," Hilzer said. "Coach Arlt knows these kids and knows exactly where they played and where they can help us."

Last year's team went 3-5 in the regular-season league play. While that mark was good enough to earn them a No. 3 seed and a first-round bye in the district tournament, the Broncos were eliminated in the second round by Northwest Christain, 13-1.

Hilzer said this year's team is more experienced and he hopes to improve on that finish.

He's excited about the two pitchers on top of the starting rotation.

"[Senior] Garret Fredrick has been a starter since he was an eighth grader," Hilzer said. "Owen Telecky, a sophomore, pitched for us a lot last year and played winter ball all year in Spokane ... His arm is in good shape."

After those two, Hilzer said the team may have to pitch by committee. While he does have a few freshmen with pitching experience, he says he is hesitant to use them a lot.

"You don't want to throw too many freshmen if you don't have to because of the difference in junior high and high school batters," Hilzer said.

Hilzer said some of the position players have pitching experience and will have to pick up some innings again this year.

Hilzer feels good about most of the other positions. He says he only has one big hole to fill in the infield.

"We have to fill the shortstop position where Bryce Kelly was last year," Hilzer said. "We don't know exactly who we are going to fill that with yet. It could be Drew Kelly, his brother."

Last year's starting third baseman, Bryce Hansen, also graduated. However, the team has two other players -Josh McClure and Jay Harder- who have experience at the position.

Freshman Wyatt Gordon played both shortstop and third base in junior high, and Hilzer said he could end up filling in for both positions.

The Broncos open their season with a jamboree in Connell on March 14. They will play three-inning games against Connell and Freeman. Hilzer says the jamboree will tell him a lot about his team.

"I'm hoping to see how well our pitchers can locate and how well we can put the ball in play," Hilzer said. "We need to limit our errors. We're not going to be a team that is able to give up four or five outs per inning because of errors. We can't do that to our pitchers because we aren't very deep in pitching."

The Broncos open the regular season with a non-league game against Kettle Falls on March 21.


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