The Thunder Mountain High School baseball team will open their third season in the league with a road trip to Petersburg this week.
Of the 16 players making the voyage to battle against the PSG Vikings, Wrangell Wolves and Craig Panthers, 10 can toe the rubber on the mound and three are in their third year with the program.
Senior Cam Thomas, and juniors Ben Bullock, Dylan Johnson and Jackson Pavitt have grown with the program from its start.
“This is the first year the freshman class has not been the biggest class on varsity,” Co-head coach Bill McCauley said. “We know who are reliable players are, we are going to figure out how to work in the new guys… the trick is always how to give them experience in a positive way.”
As reliables, Thomas is a powerful pitcher, catcher and first baseman; Bullock brings three years of pitching to the team and will also find time in the middle infield and behind the plate; Johnson is primarily a right-handed pitcher who is fairly versatile and may get corner infield or outfield work; and Pavitt is a pitcher and middle infielder and has the range to play outfield.
“We have lots of options now,” McCauley said. “And Jackson is one of those guys you can stick about any where and he will succeed.”
Senior Chris Luck is in his comeback season. After helping establish the program as the Falcons’ best catcher and pitcher his sophomore year, Luck tore his MCL during preseason play last year and missed the entire campaign. Still getting stronger daily, Luck is currently at 85-percent but is still setting the mark for battery players.
“Anyone who plays catcher and any other position is very multi-talented,” McCauley said. “It takes a really good athlete to just play catcher. So if that was all they played that says a lot, but we don’t have any strictly catchers, a lot of our kids are versatile.”
Senior Chatham Miller will play first base and some outfield and classmate Erik Reyna is playing his first varsity baseball season and is making the transition smoothly from running back for the Falcons’ football team.
“You know Erik is very athletic,” McCauley said. “We will give him some outfield and use him as a base running specialist.”
Junior Brenyn Marshall returns to the Falcons after spending his sophomore baseball campaign playing in New Mexico. Marshall was a Falcons’ freshman and will play the middle infield and outfield.
Junior Patrick Millay is playing his first year of high school baseball. The multi-talented athlete will be a force at pitcher, catcher and in the outfield and had stellar years in the Gastineau Chanel circuit.
Junior Martin Conchas-Michel is a big left-handed athlete who will find time on the mound but is possibly strongest in the outfield.
Sophomore Brandon Chappell is a left-handed outfielder and classmate Brian Mielke is a right-handed outfielder.
Sophomore Gus Swanton is a pitcher, infielder and outfielder that may get time behind the plate, but his strengths lie in throwing and hitting the ball. Swanton smacked the Falcons’ first home run last season as a freshman against Sitka.
Freshman Tim Christensen is a pitcher and outfielder that may try some corner infield work.
Freshman Jared Markovitch is a right-handed pitcher and middle infielder and his cousin, and classmate, RJ Markovitch is a left-handed pitcher, catcher, first baseman and outfielder.
“That is pretty good for a freshman,” McCauley commented. “That is very versatile. You’ll notice our freshmen are here to bolster the pitching. The old baseball adage is you can’t have enough pitchers, and that is always pretty much true.”
The Falcons also boast four left-handed players, and while a left-hander is not uncommon around the league, four on a roster can provide an advantage for a team, as opponents don’t have the availability to practice against southpaws at the plate or the mound.
McCauley, co-head coach Matt Greely, and assistant coaches Joe Tompkins and Todd Luck have the Falcons ready for travel. The Falcons’ open play against the Vikings at 4 p.m. Thursday, the Wolves at 1 p.m. Friday and the Panthers at noon on Saturday.