The Bulldog baseball team doesn’t rebuild. It reloads. The Dawgs battled injuries in 2009 and still posted a 17-11 record. They were 8-4 in the Valley League.
Pitching is what the game is about and the Dawgs will return their ace from 2009. Senior Cody Willingham went 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA. He posted 15 appearances, logged 77 innings, struck out 87 batters and was first team All Valley League and the Valley League Pitcher of the Year. The southpaw will be attending University of California Irvine next season.
Senior Brady Wilson earned second team Valley League honors as a slugging second baseman. He hit a solid .376 with 11 RBIs from his leadoff spot in the batting order, and he also played shortstop last season.
Alex “Smiley” Willeford returns for his fourth varsity campaign. The senior lefthanded hitting catcher hit .360, drove in 34 runs and hit three home runs. He earned honorable mention All Valley League last season.
Junior Blake Drake also earned Valley League honorable mention honors as an outfielder. Drake hit .283, drove in 14 runs and hit one home run. He will see time on the mound this season.
Sophomore Jackson Willeford earned honorable mention last season as an infielder. Jackson may play in the infield but he earned the spot with his bat. He hit .377 as a freshman with 14 RBIs and one home run.
Erik Ernst is back for his fourth year on the varsity. Ernst hit .224 last season with two RBIs, had 10 mound appearances and was 1-0-1 with 25 strikeouts in 23 innings.
Senior letterman James Nicholson will be back at first base. Nicholson hit .224 last season with 16 RBIs and three round trippers, and he had five mound appearances.
Kyle Gray lettered last season as an outfielder. He hit .220 with 10 RBIs.
There are eight newcomers to the roster. Senior Shea Bailey has made the roster as a third baseman. Senior Jake Venolia (utility) and juniors Zach Adamos (infield), Casmir Mason ( pitcher), Michael Scodellaro (infield), Niklas Skinner (outfield), Jason Snodgrass (pitcher) and sophomore Beau Sulser (infield, pitcher) also are on the squad.
“I really like the makeup of this team,” said coach Dean Welch. “We have a solid pitching staff. We have a good mix of lettermen and the younger players have good skills and good attitudes. Whether or not that turns into wins is yet to be seen, but I like our chances.”
Welch is the head coach. His assistants are Bob Snelling and Josh Lohman.