Oakville baseball team ready to play ball

By STEPHEN GLOVER

With 12 returning players from last season, the Oakville Senior High School baseball team is ready to play ball.

“… We’re really excited about this season,” Oakville head coach Rich Sturm said. “Overall, we’re happy with where we’re at and it’s time to get out there and play.”

The Tigers finished 2005 with an overall 15-7 record with a 6-2 mark in Suburban West Conference play, earning second place in the league. Oakville lost 2-1 to eventual state semifinalist Mehlville in the first round of districts.

Catcher Casey Jones returns for another season behind the plate after hammering out a .385 batting average last season and driving in 18 runs on 25 hits. The senior also led the team in doubles (8) and was tied for the lead in triples (2) and home runs (1).

“Casey is a very good defensive player,” Sturm said. “He’s probably our best overall hitter in terms of power and average.”

At first base will be junior Dan Rohlfing, who held a .305 batting average last season with 15 runs batted in. Rohlfing also stole three bases and drew four walks in 66 appearances at the plate.

“Dan’s coming off a great sophomore year,” Sturm said. “He’s a kid that’s kind of in the mold of Casey in that he hits for power and average.”

Junior Cody Terry returns at second base after carrying a .220 batting average with three doubles and two runs batted in.

“Cody’s been handling the bat extremely well,” Sturm said. “He’s also looking very solid defensively.”

Senior Ron Ballard will be at shortstop. Last season, he batted .233 with six runs batted and eight walks.

“Hitting-wise, Ron’s really improved,” Sturm said. “We’re really looking for some big things from him this season.”

At third base will be senior Tim Kappel, who saw action last season at first base.

“We’re hoping that Tim plays as well for us at third base as he did at first base last year,” Sturm said. “He played a significant number of innings for us last year.”

Senior Greg Dambach returns for duty in right field after batting a solid .273 last year with seven runs batted in on 18 hits. Dambach also recorded four doubles and seven walks along with four stolen bases.

“Greg’s improved tremendously in right field and has looked fantastic this spring,” Sturm said. “He’s another one of those seniors that we’ll be looking to have a breakout year.”

Junior Adam Boyer, who’s coming off a solid summer season with the Oakville Legion, will be at center field.

“Adam’s a fantastic outfielder that’s really improved offensively,” the Oakville coach said. “When he’s on, he’s a multidimensional threat for us.”

Senior Chris Kaestner is questionable at the moment for left-field duty after injuring his ankle. He batted .325 last year with eight runs batted in and eight stolen bases.

“If Chris is out for the season, we’re in big trouble,” Sturm said. “Not having him on the field would be a huge loss for us.”

Oakville will have two returning pitchers — seniors Pay Doyle and Matt Pressler.

Doyle was 3-1 overall last year with a 2.07 earned run average. He recorded 22 strikeouts, while holding opponents to a .252 batting average.

“Pat’s looked pretty sharp so far this season,” Sturm said. “Knock on wood, hopefully he and Matt are healthy all season.”

Pressler was 1-0 overall with a 6.13 earned run average with two saves after starting last season injured. He started in just two games, while appearing in six as he spent most of his time in relief mode.

“Matt actually started the year off hurt,” Sturm said. “So basically, we had him coming out of the bullpen for us.”

Oakville will travel to Pacific for a 4 p.m. Monday game with the Indians.